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Wheels come off in vehicle allowance scandal

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The free ride couldn't go on forever.

Amid growing concern over double-dipping both a city-owned car and a hefty vehicle allowance, Benjamin Johnson, Richmond's director for the office of emergency management, has stepped down.

The news came in an after-hours press release from the mayor's office, in which Wilder announced he would also be returning the vehicle allowance money he'd been receiving since 2005. Johnson and Wilder were the only city officials known to have been receiving both the vehicle allowance and a city car.

Style Weekly first reported the double dips on April 11.

Asked why Johnson had been asked to step down when his violation was the same as the mayor's, Wilder spokesman Linwood Norman declined to comment further and referred questions to the press release.

The release does not indicate whether Johnson will return the roughly $17,000 he's received since July 2005. Wilder's own allowance amounts to $8,400 a year.

City Chief Administrative Officer Sheila Hill-Christian asked Johnson to return the car April 8, but when asked to comment on Johnson's resignation today, she declined comment.

Johnson will be replaced by his department's deputy director, Anthony McLean, according to the press release.

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