RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond businessman may go to prison for 15 years when he's sentenced for his role in an investment scheme that caused millions in losses. You may remember Julius Everett 'Bud' Johnson. Johnson bought the bankrupt 'Norvell Awning Company'.
This was supposed to be a company reborn with a new owner and a commitment to customer service instead it's a second round of bad news spotlighting the new owner for wrong doing.
No one answered my knock at the home in Short Pump so I wrote Julius Everett "Bud" Johnson a note including my phone number. He hasn't called me yet.
Across town on Arlington Street his awning business had closed for the day, but just like opening day in 2009 he has a staff that's always working. Johnson bought the assets of the bankrupt company once owned by Reynolds' heir, Richard Reynolds, and formed the Norvell Awning Group.
Less than two years later, Johnson, the head of the revived company pleaded guilty in federal court to one count conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud, and one count, engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.
"No not all awning companies are like that," said Bill McSpadden, owner of Capitol Awning.
Bill McSpadden, Norvell Awning's biggest competitor, sat in on much the court proceedings and says it casts a cloud over the whole industry. The U.S. Justice Department says Johnson misused investor's funds and diverted money from the Norvell Awning bank account to pay other investors, and cover losses with other business ventures.
"Bud Johnson should spend time behind bars. There are plenty of people who are personally ruined and not just the people who lost money," said McSpadden.
Johnson maintains through an attorney he did not intend to defraud investors. His plea agreement with U.S. prosecutors calls for prison time, a $500,000 fine and restitution. He will be sentenced in July.
Also this week, the S.C.C. found Johnson libel for improperly selling securities. If he pays $11-million in restitution, the S.C.C. will waive a $37.4-million penalty on Johnson and a co-conspirator.