By Mark Cowling | PinalCentral
The FBI recently inquired into facts related to the town of Florence’s interest in buying Johnson Utilities several years ago, according to filings in Pinal County Superior Court.
Johnson Utilities and owner George Johnson sued the town and top town officials earlier this year, claiming the town refused a legal request to produce public records. A motion by the town, filed May 31, says the town provided copies of communications between the town and the FBI “concerning a public records request related to Defendants’ (the town’s) past attempts to purchase Johnson Utilities.”
The town said it complied with the FBI’s investigation and provided copies of the town and Johnson’s “Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement relating to the 2013 potential purchase of Johnson Utilities by Defendants” on Nov. 19.
“At present the town has no further comment on the FBI inquiry. In regards to the pending lawsuit, the town believes it fully and satisfactorily responded to the public records request and complied fully with the Arizona Public Records statute. We expect the court will agree,” William H. Doyle, the town’s outside legal counsel on the case, commented by email to PinalCentral.
The FBI previously investigated allegations that Johnson bribed an Arizona corporation commissioner. The case ended last year with a mistrial when the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.
Johnson’s attorneys wrote to the town on Oct. 4 seeking copies of communications the town had with other local, county and state agencies and authorities about Johnson Utilities and its related entities and companies. Five months later, Johnson sued, alleging that Florence withheld records by falsely claiming the records were protected by attorney-client privilege or work-product privilege.