Prince Georges County Executive Jack Johnson and County Councilwoman-Elect Leslie Johnson Charged with Witness Tampering and Destruction of Evidence
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 12, 2010|
GREENBELT, MD—A criminal complaint was filed today charging Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson, age 61, and his wife, Prince George’s County Councilwoman-Elect Leslie Johnson, age 58, both of Mitchellville, Maryland, for tampering with a witness and evidence relating to the commission of a federal offense; and destruction, alteration, and falsification of records in a federal investigation. The Johnsons were arrested today at their home by special agents with the FBI and Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation.
The criminal complaint was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Sparkman of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein stated, “The investigations referenced in the criminal complaint are ongoing. Additional charges are expected.”
Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said, “These charges are the result of a long and complex investigation by the FBI in Prince George's County. Rooting out corruption is the FBI's top criminal priority and one we excel at. This investigation will continue to seek out corrupt officials and acts within all levels of Prince George’s County government. I encourage anyone with direct knowledge of illegal acts or who has any information concerning corrupt officials or acts in Prince George's County to contact the FBI at 410-265-8080.”
“IRS Criminal Investigation provides financial investigative expertise in our work with our law enforcement partners,” said IRS Special Agent In Charge Rebecca Sparkman. “Pooling the skills of each agency makes a formidable team as we investigate allegations of wrong-doing. Today's actions demonstrate our collective efforts to enforce the law and ensure public trust.”
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, the FBI initiated an investigation into allegations that certain real estate developers in Prince George’s County, Maryland were bribing public officials in exchange for official acts favorable to the developers and their companies. The affidavit alleges that this and a related investigation led to a series of wiretap orders from September 2009 to the present.
The Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development (“DHCD”) administered the HOME Investment Partnerships program, which provides federal grants to states and localities to fund the construction, purchase and/or rehabilitation of affordable housing for rent or home-ownership. According to the complaint, the Director of DHCD has the authority to recommend which developers should receive HOME funds for development projects in the county. A developer with projects in Prince George’s County sought and obtained HOME funds from the county for the developer’s projects. The complaint alleges that Jack Johnson received cash and checks, including a $100,000 check, from the developer in return for Johnson’s help, in his official capacity as county executive, in securing HOME funds for the developer’s projects.
Further the complaint alleges that on November 12, 2010, the developer provided Jack Johnson with $15,000 in return for Johnson using his official influence and authority for the benefit of the developer and his companies. Following the payment, FBI agents entered the room where the payment took place and asked Johnson about the payment. Johnson was searched and the agents recovered the $15,000. After Johnson was searched, he left the area and the affidavit alleges that he and Leslie Johnson exchanged a series of telephone calls and took steps to destroy evidence. FBI agents entered the home and met Leslie Johnson at the door. The agents searched Leslie Johnson and recovered approximately $79,000.
Jack and Leslie Johnson face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison each for tampering with a witness and evidence relating to the commission of a federal offense and for destruction, alteration and falsification of records in a federal investigation. The Johnsons had their initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt this afternoon. They were released under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services. Some of the conditions of their release include no financial transactions over $1,000 without prior approval; no destruction of evidence; and no obstruction of justice or hindering the FBI investigation. In addition, Jack Johnson is on home detention with electronic monitoring.
A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and IRS-CI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys James A. Crowell IV, A. David Copperthite and Sujit Raman, who are prosecuting the case.