AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Mayoral candidate John Johnson says he's a former Mafia hit man living under federal protection and an assumed name.

''Some of you may know me as John Johnson, a local businessman and candidate for mayor,'' he said at a news conference Wednesday. ''My original name and the name I will always consider my real name, is John Patrick Tully.''

The U.S. Marshals Service, which hides the identities of those who enter its Witness Protection Program, would not confirm or deny whether Johnson, the owner of a hot dog and fajita vending business, was a protected witness.

Lt. Colon Jordan, retired head of intelligence for Austin police, and other, unidentified police sources told the Austin American-Statesman that Johnson's claims are true. They said he came to Austin seven years ago.

Police had no official comment on the newspaper's report.

Johnson displayed a photograph and numerous documents to bolster his claim that he is Tully.

He said that he got federal protection after helping to convict members of a New Jersey crime family. But he said he decided to make public his shady past because he is more afraid of the local police than of the mob.

''I've come out in the open and I joined this mayor's race because I was in fear of my life by the police department,'' said Johnson, who wore an American flag draped around his neck.

Johnson said he had been beaten by police while he was in custody in 1987 and that he has been harassed since then. He has an unpublished number and could not be reached later to elaborate on his harassment claims.

Police spokeswoman Gail Phillips said the department has no record of Johnson filing any harassment reports.

Records show Tully pleaded guilty in 1975 to charges including four counts of murder, conspiring to commit murder, armed robbery and drug trafficking.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison after helping authorities convict nine members of the Campisi crime family.

Johnson, who is one of eight candidates in the May 4 election, said he no longer fears retaliation from the mob. ''These crimes happened 20 years ago,'' he said. ''Today, I'm no longer a threat to the Mafia that I was 20 years ago.''