Herndon sanctions former owner of Fairview Heights drug house for 'baseless claims of judicial corruption'

By The Madison County Record | Apr 10, 2014


Lennil Johnson must pay $1,000 for constantly claiming that St. Clair County judges and lawyers stole his home so heroin dealer Deborah Perkins could run it as a drug house.

Chief U.S. District Judge David Herndon sanctioned Johnson on April 1, for his “baseless claims of judicial corruption.”

“Johnson’s repetitive filings have no basis in fact or law and were clearly presented to harass, cause unnecessary delay, and needlessly increase the costs of an otherwise straightforward civil forfeiture action,” Herndon wrote.

He wrote that Johnson also owes the federal court clerk $2,418.76 in filing fees.

In 2003, Johnson obtained a quit claim deed from Perkins on a residential property at 20 Kassing Drive, in Fairview Heights.

The deed stated that Perkins received $1 and other valuable considerations.

Perkins later sued to declare the deed invalid, and St. Clair County Circuit Judge Ellen Dauber ruled in her favor in 2006.

In 2012, Jennifer Herling and Jesse Williams died after overdosing at the house.

Last year, U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton filed drug distribution charges against Perkins and her son, Douglas Oliver.

The city of Fairview Heights filed a forfeiture action in St. Clair County chancery court, and Wigginton filed one in federal court.

Perkins consented to forfeiture in federal court, and she and Oliver pleaded guilty.

Johnson challenged the forfeiture in December, writing that Perkins had no right to forfeit a property he purchased.

“Perkins filed fraudulent documents by and through attorneys and judges who were relatives of each other and knew and were associated with Deborah Perkins,” Johnson wrote.

“Perkins dealt with numerous judges and law firms who were connected in corruption at the St. Clair County courthouse.”

He further wrote that she took his home “at the bequest of corrupt judges that Perkins controlled through drugs and money.”

Johnson also sued Dauber in federal court.  He filed his pleadings from St. Clair County jail, where he awaited trial on three felony charges of aggravated battery.

State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly had filed the charges in January 2012, but no one arrested Johnson until last September.

Herndon rejected Johnson’s challenge to the forfeiture in February, finding his claim untimely, frivolous, false and fraudulent.

Herndon ordered Johnson to show why the court should not enter monetary sanctions.

In March, U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan dismissed the suit against Dauber.

Reagan wrote that Johnson had brought at least eight cases to the court since 2000, and that he owed $2,418.76 in unpaid filing fees.

Herndon added $1,000 to his tab on April 1.

“The court initially intended to enter default judgment against Johnson at the end of the case,” Herndon wrote.

“However, because Johnson continued to pursue his claims after the court had deemed them frivolous, the court entered final judgment against him on Feb. 21."

He wrote that Johnson did not appeal Dauber’s judgment.

“Thus, Johnson has known since 2006 that he does not have a valid interest in the property,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, in his criminal case, public defender Patrick Sullivan had questioned his fitness to stand trial.

Circuit Judge Zina Cruse ordered a psychiatric evaluation, which found him fit.

Kelly dismissed the felony charges on April 3, and Johnson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery.

Cruse granted him credit for 191 days in jail, placed him on two years probation, and ordered him to perform 60 hours of community service.

The house stands vacant, as an eyesore in a pleasant neighborhood.

Herndon signed a forfeiture order for Wigginton on March 17, but the forfeiture action of Fairview Heights remains open in St. Clair County chancery court.

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