Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson and his wife Leslie have been charged with tampering with a witness in connection with a criminal offense and destruction of evidence in a federal investigation. Each offense carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
The offense occurred today, according to the judge in the case.
Neither has been charged with the bribery alleged in the affidavit, but law enforcement sources said the investigation is continuing and an indictment is likely to follow Friday’s charges.
After brief hearings late Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge William Connolly ordered Jack Johnson to be released and placed under electronic monitoring. The judge released Leslie Johnson on her own recognizance. Both Johnsons were ordered to surrender their passports.
An investigation was initiated in January 2006 when FBI agents learned that certain real estate developers in the county and their associates were providing things of value to public officials in exchange for official acts favorable to the developers, according to the affidavit. The agents were granted authority for a series of wiretaps from September 2009 to the present.
Through wiretaps, cooperating sources and other information, the affidavit states that beginning as early as 2007, Johnson is alleged to have received money from an unidentified developer to secure federal housing funds for the developer’s projects in the county.
On or about Nov. 5, 2010, the same developer allegedly gave Jack Johnson $5,000 in cash for “using his official influence and authority for the benefit of” the developer and his companies. This exchange was recorded on audio and video, according to the affidavit.
In a second encounter today that was also recorded, the same developer gave Jack Johnson $15,000 in cash for similar purposes. The agents entered the room where the payment took place, identified themselves and Johnson told the investigators that the money was for a party to celebrate his tenure as county executive and that he had no business dealings with the developer. Agents took his phone, imaged the phone, returned the phone and Johnson left.
Later, at 10:10 a.m., FBI agents knocked on the door of the couple’s Mitchellville home. Leslie Johnson, at home at the time, called her husband on a phone agents were monitoring. Overheard in that conversation, Jack Johnson told his wife to not answer the door and to go into their bedroom to retrieve the $100,000 check.
Leslie Johnson grew frantic.
“Where is the check? Where is the check?” she asked. He repeatedly described a box within a drawer in their bedroom. She asked if it was the box in which they stored liquor and he replied “yes.”
Jack Johnson is overheard ordering Leslie Johnson to tear up the check. “Tear it up! That is the only thing you have to do.”
Leslie Johnson also asked Jack Johnson whether she should remove cash from the house and he suggested she put it in her underwear. Jack Johnson instructed his wife to “put it in your bra and walk out or something, I don’t know what to do,” according to the document.
Jack Johnson then again told his wife to tear up the check and Leslie Johnson asked, “Do you want me to put it down the toilet?” And Jack Johnson said, “Yes, flush that.”
Agents then heard what they believed was a flushing toilet.
Leslie Johnson then told her husband she had the cash in her bra.
FBI agents entered the home soon after and discovered $79,600 in her underwear, according to the document.