SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Sacramento attorney who has filed thousands of lawsuits against local businesses for ADA non-compliance was formally charged by federal prosecutors Wednesday with making false tax returns.
Wheelchair-bound Scott Johnson pleaded not guilty in court. CBS13’s Steve Large caught up with him outside the courthouse.
“Mr. Johnson, it’s Steve Large with CBS13, anything you want to say about the charges against you? Anything at all sir? Given the charges, anything you want to say to the business owners who’ve been forced to pay you money? Nothing at all sir?” Steve asked.
Johnson left the federal courthouse without saying a word. Critics say Johnson is a drive-by litigant, filing lawsuits at businesses he never even enters.
Federal prosecutors say of the many ADA cases he won or settled between 2012 and 2014, Johnson underreported the taxable income he received from the cases, and as a result, paid little or no tax during those years.
Don Murphy’s son was forced to close Jointed Cue Billiards in Sacramento in 2018 after Johnson filed a lawsuit against him.
“First thing that crossed my mind was that Al Capone couldn’t beat the IRS and so maybe this guy has finally been caught,” Murphy said.
Murphy’s son chose to close the doors, rather than pay hefty legal and compliance costs. The Fruitridge Road pool hall had been open for half a century before Johnson filed the lawsuit for ADA non-compliance.
“He was making a living filing these lawsuits,” Murphy said.
A grand jury indicted Johnson last week for filing false tax returns. Wednesday was his first day in court facing the criminal charges.
“Tell me about your day in court please,” CBS13’s Steve Large asked. “Are you going to continue filing lawsuits?”
Johnson chose not to answer any questions to Large, although his attorney did have something to say.
“You know what? I’d give you an interview but you’re being a jerk,” Johnson’s attorney Malcolm Segal said, “So I’m not going to.”
Johnson was forced to hand over his passport and submit his fingerprints before leaving the courthouse Wednesday.
He is due back in court next month.