Upper Marlboro, Md. – FBI agents arrested Jack Johnson, the outgoing Prince George’s county executive and one of Maryland’s premier leaders, and his wife Leslie Nov. 12 in connection with illegal conduct in what the FBI described as “official corruption and extortion in Prince Georges County” involving real estate developers.
Both have been charged with tampering with witness and evidence relating to the commission of a federal offense; destruction, alteration and falsification of records in a federal investigation; and aiding and abetting, with some of the charges carrying maximum sentences of 20 years each.
Johnson maintained his innocence in a press conference after the hearing, while his wife’s attorney, Roland Patterson asked the public for its support.
“Mrs. Johnson asks for all of your prayers and support for the family as she goes through the ordeal of fighting to disprove the allegations that are pending against her,” Patterson said.
The 61 year-old Johnson’s second term as country executive expires in December. His wife, 58, was recently elected to the Prince Georges County Council.
The pair was taken from their home in Mitchellville in handcuffs to the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md., where they were arraigned. During the court proceedings, arresting officers said nearly $80,000 in cash was seized from Mrs. Johnson’s underwear.
The first couple of Prince George’s County is part of large investigation into corruption with developers and high-ranking officials within the Prince George’s County government that has been ongoing since January 2006. Federal officials began the wiretap of the Johnsons in January of this year.
The unsealed affidavit alleges that Jack Johnson had taken money from an unnamed developer and in exchange, Johnson provided the developer with HUD funding.
On Nov. 5, during an audio and video recorded meeting, the developer provided Johnson with $5,000 in exchange for a political favor. The same thing happened on Nov. 12 for $15,000 only this time, FBI agents entered the room following the money transfer.
Agents then asked Johnson about the money and he replied that it was for a party marking the end of his tenure as county executive. According to previous documented evidence throughout the investigation, agents were led to believe Johnson lied to them, but they told him he was free to go.
In the meantime, search warrants were issued for the Johnson home and several government offices in Prince George’s County. Agents went to the Johnson home first.
When they arrived at the Johnson home, Leslie Johnson made a call to her husband’s wiretapped cell phone. Jack Johnson allegedly told his wife not to answer the door. He then advised his wife to go upstairs to find a check that the aforementioned developer wrote to him for $100,000. Leslie then interrupted her husband and asked if wanted her to get a large sum of cash they had stashed away.
In the end, authorities say the wiretap says that Leslie admits to finding the check, ripping it up and stuffing $79,600 in her bra. When the FBI agents entered the home, they searched her and found the money on her person.
The Johnsons were released on personal recognizance, ordered to surrender their passports and told to limit their spending to transactions of no more than $1,000, except for legal fees, mortgage and utility payments.
A preliminary hearing in the case is set for Dec. 13.