Jack B. Johnson, former county executive of Maryland’s Prince George’s County, pleaded guilty to federal felony counts of bribery, extortion and witness and evidence tampering on Tuesday. The county is one of the nation’s wealthiest African-American majority counties.
Johnson and his wife, Leslie, a county council member, were arrested after an FBI raid on their home last November. Agents found a $100,000 check from a developer and nearly $80,000 in cash. In the moments before they entered the home Johnson ordered his wife in a frantic phone call to flush the check down the toilet and conceal the cash in her underwear. As bad luck would have it, the FBI had wiretapped their phones and heard every word.
Their arrest was part of a widespread corruption case that involved the Johnsons and other state and local government officials who received money, travel expenses, golf rounds, employment, mortgage payments and other items of monetary value in exchange for favors doled out to developers and business owners, such as lucrative contract opportunities.
According to a 2008 Washington Post report, Johnson, who was previously a state’s attorney before serving as county executive for eight years until December 2010, awarded development deals worth millions of dollars to his friends and political allies, some of whom had little or no development experience.
Johnson, who will be sentenced in September, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the extortion conspiracy and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for witness and evidence tampering. The case against his wife is still pending, but she is expected to also enter a guilty plea.
(Photo: Drew Angerer/Landov)