Three hours after admitting he stole from the taxpayers, Michigan Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, submitted his resignation Friday from his Senate seat.

In a one-sentence letter, Johnson writes: "It is with profound regret that I tender my resignation, effective March, 2, 2018."

The letter, addressed to Secretary of the Senate Jeff Cobb, followed a guilty plea hearing in federal court, where Johnson admitted he put a ghost employee on the payroll for almost a year and paid her $23,000 for no work. The scheme, prosecutors said, was to repay a loan.

Johnson had borrowed $17,000 money from a woman to help pay his son's tuition bill at University of Detroit Jesuit high school and his property taxes, records show. When he couldn't pay the loan back, records show, he created a fake job for the woman to pay her back, courtesy of the taxpayers.

The ghost employee, Glynis Thornton, cooperated with authorities after getting targeted in another corruption scheme involving Detroit principals who took bribes.

Under the terms of his plea deal, Johnson faces six to 12 months in prison.

Meanwhile, action is underway in Lansing to fill Johnson's Senate seat.

"I have received his letter of resignation. I am asking Gov. Snyder to immediately call a special election to fill this seat, with the new senator being sworn in no later than August," Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich said in a statement.

Tresa Baldas can be reached at tbaldas@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @Tbaldas.

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