Man pleads guilty to wire fraud

A self-proclaimed religious leader and Augusta businessman is back in jail this week after a judge found continuing allegations of fraudulent activity as grounds to revoke his bond.

 

In a court order signed Monday, Judge W. Leon Barfield ruled that Sabra Harrison Johnson also must forfeit his $100,000 bond, which was secured by $10,000 cash.

After he was rearrested, Mr. Johnson pleaded guilty Monday to wire fraud.

Mr. Johnson was president of Tour of Hope and claimed a ministry in Augusta through World Faith Church from 2003 to 2005.

He was arrested on charges that he used the Social Security numbers of job applicants to obtain fraudulent access to credit cards.

According to Judge Barfield's order, when Mr. Johnson and his wife learned that officers had a search warrant for their home, they fled to Houston.

Matilda Johnson is still a fugitive with charges pending against her in Columbia and Aiken counties.

According to the judge's order, Mr. Johnson continued the ministry in Houston and kept swindling people by stealing their identities.

He also allegedly operated a scam enterprise in Houston, claiming to be an experienced wedding caterer and floral arrangements specialist.

Mr. Johnson also allegedly:

- Lied about his income to obtain a loan for a vehicle;

- Left behind a stash of credit applications with various versions of his name and different Social Security numbers;

- Skipped out ahead of a stream of vendors, civil process services and check-cashing company representatives;

- Wrote bad checks for rent;

- Cheated employees out of their pay;

- Used false personal information to obtain a lease for a storefront.

"Throughout the time period from the beginning of the scheme alleged in the instant indictment, on or about Jan. 1, 2003 ... Mr. Johnson has participated in a series of fraudulent schemes specifically designed to defraud people of money -- be it unpaid salaries, fraudulent representation of services to be provided, bounced checks, or fraudulent credit applications," Judge Barfield wrote.

Mr. Johnson will remain in custody until sentencing. No date has been set.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.