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Talk of County Exec. Jack Johnson Taking Bribes Came Up During FBI Probe into Dirty Cops

Jack Johnson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethwire.com

WASHINGTON — An investigation into dirty cops and untaxed cigarettes and liquor in Prince George’s County, a suburb of Washington, grew after some targets of the probe mentioned to an undercover FBI agent that County Executive Jack Johnson was open to taking bribes, a law enforcement source told ticklethewire.com.

Johnson and his wife, Leslie, a county council member, were arrested last Friday for evidence tampering after they tried to hide evidence  linked to bribes from a developer.

On Monday, three county cops including Sgt. Richard Delabrer and six others including a liquor store owner with links to Johnson were arrested in connection with an undercover FBI probe into dirty cops and the sale of untaxed cigarettes and liquor. One officer is charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine.

One key figure in the probe is  Prince George’s County Police Sgt. Richard Delabrer, who authorities say helped protect and deliver untaxed liquor to Tick Tock Liquor and Restaurant in Langley Park, where he worked off duty as a security guard.

The owner of the liquor store,  Amrik S. Melhi, owns other businesses in the county and has links to Johnson.

During the probe, the undercover FBI agent and a confidential source worked with the cops who were protecting and delivering  illegal cigarettes and liquor. The FBI had wiretap and recorded conversations.

In one instance, the owner of Tick Tock Liquor, told the undercover agent  that he once paid Johnson $40,000 to take care of a permit problem he had with one of his properties, according to the law enforcement source. Melhi said the problem was taken care of in one day.

In another instance, Sgt. Delabrer told the agent  that he had to make sure the Tick Tock Liquor owner was happy because the owner has Johnson on his payroll, the source said. Delabrer went on to explain  that in one instance his superior was mad at him and wanted to transfer him. But the liquor store owner contacted Johnson, who put the kabosh on the transfer.

Delabrer told the agent that Johnson is all about the money and that the liquor store owner provided liquor to Johnson any time the county executive had a party.

Johnson insisted last Friday that he has done nothing wrong and will be cleared of any charges.  More charges are expected to be filed.

His attorney Billy Martin did not immediately return a phone call for comment.  Attorneys for Delabrer  and Melhi also did not immediately return calls to ticklethewire.com for comment Thursday morning.

Both Johnson and his wife were  heard on a wiretapped phone  talking about flushing a check from a developer down the toilet as FBI agents waited outside the house last Friday, according to an FBI affidavit.  They were arrested shortly after.

An FBI affidavit by agent Wendy Munoz of the Baltimore field Division stated that Johnson took a $100,000 check from a developer in exchange for helping get government housing funds for a development. And on November 5, the FBI recorded Johnson taking $5,000 in cash from the developer, according to the affidavit. A week later, the same developer gave Johnson $15,000 in cash.

Agents entered the room after the $15,000 payment and confronted Johnson, who said the cash was for a party marking the end of his tenure as county executive, the affidavit said. He also said he had no business with the developer, which was a false statement, according to the affidavit. Agents then recovered the $15,000.

On Friday morning at 10:10 a.m., FBI agents knocked on the front door or Johnson’s home in Mitchellville, Md., a Washington suburb, according to the affidavit.

Two minutes later, Johnson’s wife called Johnson on an FBI-tapped phone.

The wife told Johnson two women were at the door.

“Don’t answer it,” Johnson said, according to the affidavit.

Johnson then told his wife to go upstairs and go to “my drawer” and find a check from the developer the FBI believes was the $100,000 check. He said the check was in the underwear drawer.

The wife then asked if she should remove any cash and Johnson said “Yes.”

Johnson then told his wife to put the cash in her underwear.

After she found the check, Johnson told his wife: “Tear it up! That is the only thing you have to do.”

She then asked if she should remove the cash from the basement and Johnson said: “Put it in your bra and walk out or something and I don’t know what to do.”

Leslie Johnson then said: “What do you want me to do with the check?”

“Tear it up,” Johnson replied.

Then Johnson told her to flush the check down the toilet.

“Yes, flush that,” he said, according to the affidavit.

He then told her to put the cash in her underwear.

“I have it in my bra,” she replied.

FBI agents entered the home and found $79,600 in Leslie Johnson’s underwear.


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