Prince George’s County Councilwoman Leslie Johnson Sentenced for Conspiring to Obstruct Federal Corruption Investigation
Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Prince George’s County Councilwoman Leslie Johnson, age 60, of Mitchellville, Maryland, today to a year and a day in prison followed by two years of supervised release for conspiring to commit witness and evidence tampering in order to obstruct a federal corruption investigation. In addition, Judge Messitte ordered Leslie Johnson to perform 240 hours of community service and pay a $15,000 fine. Finally, Judge Messite entered an order requiring Johnson to forfeit $79,600, the amount of cash recovered from Johnson at the time of her arrest.
The sentence 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 Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeannine A. Hammett of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
“People who hold public office have a duty to serve with integrity,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Government officials must always keep in mind that their job is to pursue the public interest and not personal profit.”
“No matter what your station, it is unacceptable to help yourself to other people’s money and violate their trust. If you commit a crime, status as a political leader will not protect you from federal prosecution, said Jeannine A. Hammett Acting Special Agent in Charge, Washington DC Field Office IRS Criminal Investigation.”
Leslie Johnson served for over 27 years as an Administrative Law Judge in the District of Columbia. In November 2010, Leslie Johnson was elected to serve as a member of the Prince George’s County Council, and her husband Jack B. Johnson had been serving as the elected Prince George’s County Executive for almost eight years. According to her plea agreement, on November 12, 2010, Leslie Johnson was at home in Mitchellville when FBI and IRS agents knocked on their door with a federal search warrant authorizing a search of the house.
While the agents were knocking on the door and announcing that they were federal officers with a search warrant, Leslie Johnson called Jack Johnson. Jack Johnson told her to go to the bedroom and tear up a $100,000 check that Mirza Baig, a physician and developer in the County, had given to Jack Johnson in return for his help in securing funds for the developer’s projects. Leslie Johnson asked Jack Johnson whether she should flush the check down the toilet. She then did flush the check down the toilet.
Leslie Johnson also asked Jack Johnson whether she should conceal cash that was stored in the bedroom and in the basement. Leslie Johnson then stashed $79,600 in cash in her underwear and bra and tried to leave the house, but she was stopped and searched by federal agents.
According to court documents, Leslie Johnson knew of and sanctioned Jack Johnson’s use of his official position to extort campaign donations and other benefits for her campaign for county council, and to bargain her prospective position on the county council for personal gain.
Jack B. Johnson, age 62, of Mitchellville, Maryland was sentenced to 87 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his leadership role in the extortion conspiracy and tampering with a witness and evidence. Mirza Baig faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy at his sentencing scheduled for March 9, 2012.
A total of 15 defendants have been convicted to date in the related investigations of corruption in Prince George’s County.
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 prosecuted the case.