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Lawyer notifies Sacramento clerk of potential Johnson lawsuit

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson sits court side as he watches the Sacramento Kings play the Charlotte Hornets in an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Sacramento.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson sits court side as he watches the Sacramento Kings play the Charlotte Hornets in an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Sacramento. AP

An attorney representing 14 mayors from the National Conference of Black Mayors sent the Sacramento city clerk notice of a claim against Mayor Kevin Johnson and the city Tuesday stemming from Johnson's leadership of the organization.

The mayor’s office said Wednesday that it has not been notified of a claim.

The notice, sent to City Clerk Shirley Concolino by lawyer Kenneth Muhammad, states the mayors have a claim for defamation and interference with a contractual relationship. It alleges that Johnson, city staff and volunteers intentionally lied to the media about mismanagement within the ranks of the NCBM.

Muhammad emailed The Bee a copy of the claim but did not respond to additional requests for comment.

Johnson assumed control of the group in 2013 in a takeover that ousted executive director Vanessa Williams. Johnson argued that the group was corrupt, and a Georgia state court ruled in his favor. A year later, he filed bankruptcy on behalf of the organization. He subsequently started a new organization called the African American Mayors Association.

The notice alleges that the bankruptcy filing was against the will of the 14 claimants who sat on the NCBM’s board of directors at the time.

The claim notice includes a list of staff who allegedly participated in the defamation and interference, including the mayor’s press secretary Ben Sosenko and Senior Advisor Cassandra Jennings.

City Manager John Shirey and Concolino did not return requests for comment Wednesday.

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison

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