Former Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson and his wife, former Prince George’s Councilwoman Leslie Johnson await sentencing amid new revelations after they both pled guilty to corruption charges.

In a 76-page sentencing memo, federal prosecutors in Jack Johnson’s case detail not only how Johnson was maneuvering development deals for his friends and working to get funding for his wife’s campaign; he also was setting up his post-executive employment, including a consultant job for the cash-strapped Prince George’s Hospital that would have paid him $10,000-$15,000 per month.

“In reaching a reasonable sentence, the court must properly account for the defendant’s systematic and pervasive corruption of a high public office,” the memo says.

“As one of the most egregious and notorious instances of corruption and obstruction of justice in Maryland history, the government submits that Jack Johnson’s criminal conduct calls for a very significant sentence that will promote respect for federal law and deter other public officials from engaging in corruption and obstructing justice,” it continued.

The memo goes on to say that Johnson received over $400,000 in bribes from developers throughout his years as county executive.

It also details the coded language Johnson used in phone conversations with developers. In one phone call to Dr. Mirza Baig, who also pled guilty in connection with the case, Johnson referred to a $50,000 cashier’s check from Baig as a “historical book.”

“The book you gave me to read yesterday, I’m going to give you that book back okay,” Johnson said. “Because, it’s a, you know, a historical book and then I’ll take lessons from time to time from you. Yeah, I think that’s better you know.”

According to prosecutors, Johnson was telling Baig that he’d only accept smaller payments from him.

The memo also implicates Leslie Johnson, citing a recorded conversation between the couple. Jack Johnson told his wife that a developer from whom he had extorted for thousands of dollars was excited that she was running for council.

“I’m sure he will give me something because he knows that I am going to help him,” Leslie Johnson said according to the memo.

Jack Johnson is currently trying to delay his sentencing due to health concerns. According to court documents, Johnson has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and is suffering from depression and is asking the court to continue the sentencing, which was already delayed from September to December.

Johnson’s defense team has undergone several changes and they’re claiming that they had no knowledge of Johnson’s physical condition. The prosecution disputes that saying that they knew about his ailments long before changes were made in his defense team.

“Because the defendant and his attorneys including lead counsel, have had notice that the defendant’s sentencing would take place on December 6, 2011, for more than four months, and that it was originally scheduled on Sept. 15, 2011, the defendant’s attorneys request for a delay in sentencing is unreasonable,” U.S. Attorney for Maryland Rod Rosenstein and assistant U.S. Attorney James Crowell wrote in response to Johnson’s motion.

Johnson’s sentencing is still scheduled for Dec. 6. Leslie Johnson’s hearing is scheduled for Dec. 9.

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO