Ex-Suburban D.C. County Executive Jack Johnson Who was a Prosecutor Pleads Guilty

Jack Johnson/wusa
By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Considering he was once the  top prosecutor for a prominent suburban county just outside D.C., Jack B. Johnson was not such a smart crook and shakedown artist.

Johnson was arrested by the FBI last November while in his final weeks in office as county executive of Prince George’s County on charges of taking more than $400,000 in bribes.  He was recorded by the FBI on a frantic phone call with his wife Leslie, who was home at the time when two FBI agents knocked at the front door. He was advising her to hide incriminating evidence including wads of cash.

On Tuesday, it was time to fess up.

Johnson, 62, of Mitchellville, Md. pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt to  extortion conspiracy relating to the performance of his official duties and tampering with a witness and evidence. A number of other people were charged in the case including Johnson’s wife, who faces charges relating to hiding evidence.

“Electing and appointing men and women of good character is important,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “But the key to honest government is to create a culture of integrity by establishing checks and balances that promote accountability. People who seek government benefits or approvals deserve to be evaluated on the merits, without being extorted or losing out to competitors who pay bribes.”

“This case demonstrates the FBI’s continued commitment to rooting out corruption at all levels of government,” said Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “While Jack Johnson’s guilty plea today shines a bright light on the crimes he and his associates committed, it is not the end of the FBI’s investigation into corruption in Prince George’s County,” added Richard McFeely, head of the Baltimore FBI.

Outside the court, Johnson said, according to the local NBC affiliate in Washington:

“We just thought it would be better, and we’ve pled guilty and accepted responsibility.”

Johnson was Prince George’s County Executive from 2002 to December 2010. Prior to 2002, he was the county’s State’s Attorney.

Last November, in the final weeks in office,  FBI agents knocked on the front door of Johnson’s home in Mitchellville, Md., a Washington suburb, according to an FBI 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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