Ex-Suburban D.C. County Executive Gets 7-Plus Years in Prison For Bribery


Jack Johnson/wusa
By Danny Fenster

Jack Johnson, a former county executive in suburban D.C., who was caught on a phone wiretap directing his wife inside their home to destroy evidence while FBI agents stood at the door, was sentenced Tuesday in Maryland federal court to 7 years and 3 months in prison and three years of supervised release for taking bribes.

Authorities said that Johnson, 62, who had gone from the being the top prosecutor in Prince George’s County to the county executive, used his public office as county executive to steer millions of dollars in public funds for bribes from developers. Johnson was also ordered to pay a $100,000 fine and forfeit his Mercedes Benz and $78,000. He reportedly got as much as $1 million in illegal bribes.

“Jack Johnson could have been a role model for integrity, but he chose to be a poster child for greed,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein in a statement. “The facts of this case read like a dime novel because the defendant acted as if corruption was the normal way of doing business. It is our responsibility to prove him wrong.”

After serving as the county’s State’s Attorney and nearly a decade as an attorney for the IRS, Johnson began a career as County Executive in 2002 that lasted until December of 2010.

The guilty plea says Johnson orchestrated a conspiracy from 2003 through at least November 12, 2010,among clients which included bribes of money, trip expenses, food, drinks, logding, flights, employment and political contributions, among other items, according to the Justice Department. The bribes among Johnson and other co-conspirators amounted to more than $1.6 million.

There have been 15 convictions to date in related corruption investigations in Prince George’s County.

Johnson was disgraced in his final weeks in office in November 2010 when FBI agents came knocking on the door of his home in Mitchellvile, Md, a suburb of D.C.  He wasn’t home, but his wife was.

Two minutes later, Johnson’s wife Leslie called Johnson on an FBI-tapped phone, according to an FBI affidavidt

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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