Nance co-defendant cuts deal, will testify against Crisp Commissioner

Published 10:27 am Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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The woman at the center of an investigation into financial and sexual misconduct at Fort Valley State University has agreed to testify against six co-defendants, one of whom is Crisp County Commissioner James Nance.

Alecia Jeanetta Johnson, 49, pleaded guilty to six counts of prostitution Monday in Peach County Superior Court in exchange for a sentence of five years on probation, a $1,000 fine, and 180 days of house arrest. Macon District Attorney David Cooke said the agreement is contingent on her truthful testimony in Nance’s trial on two counts of solicitation of sodomy and a count of pandering, along with the trial of the other five co-defendants who face charges similar to Nance.

Nance said after Tuesday’s meeting of the Crisp County Board of Commissioners that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on Johnson’s deal with prosecutors.

Cooke said in a press release that, “The cases against six men charged with pandering and solicitation of sodomy still are pending. Each defendant in a pending case is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

Since the charges against Nance are misdemeanors, there is no requirement for Nance to resign or otherwise be removed from office. The longtime county commissioner said shortly after he was first charged in October 2018 that he had no plans to leave office and expected he would be exonerated.

Johnson, a former staffer at Fort Valley State University, admitted she prostituted both an FVSU student and herself in 2017 and 2018. She was also charged in October 2018 with conspiracy to commit fiduciary theft as a result of the investigation, which was conducted for months by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation with assistance from Cooke’s office and the participation of the state attorney general’s office.

A spokeswoman for Cooke said the fiduciary theft charge against Johnson still stands.

Cooke said in a press conference on Monday that Fort Valley State University’s reputation played a part in his decision to agree to a plea deal with Johnson.

“Ms. Johnson’s actions in exploiting this young woman cast FVSU in a negative light that the school and those who hold it dear certainly didn’t deserve,” Cooke said.

A trial date for Nance and the other five co-defendants has not yet been set.