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Councilwoman Leslie Johnson pleads guilty to role in conspiracy


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Photo by Jim Davis. Leslie Johnson, second from left, leaves U.S. District Court Thursday after pleading guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit witness and evidence tampering.

Photo by Jim Davis. Leslie Johnson, second from left, leaves U.S. District Court Thursday after pleading guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit witness and evidence tampering.

Published on: Thursday, June 30, 2011

By Jim Davis

County Councilwoman Leslie Johnson pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of conspiracy to commit witness and evidence tampering.

“There is nothing I can do ... to make this day any less difficult,” the councilwoman said in front of U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

The charges Johnson faces carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,00 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney District of Maryland office. However, U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said he will seek at 12 to 18 month prison sentence. She will also forfeit proceeds from the conspiracy scheme, including $79,600 in cash. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 13. Rosenstein also said more evidence will be presented before sentencing.

Rosenstein said Johnson asked her husband — former County Executive Jack B. Johnson — if she should destroy a $100,000 check by flushing it down the toilet and what she should do with cash in the bedroom and in the basement.

“Leslie Johnson’s criminal actions, which occurred after the November elections, violated the very essence of fairly representing her constituents who elected her to office,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard McFeely in a U.S. Attorney District of Maryland press release. “A willing partner in her husband’s attempts to destroy the evidence that implicated his own corrupt acts, today’s conviction is a major step forward in brining to justice those elected officials who have violated the trust bestowed upon them.”

Johnson said she will not resign from representing District 6 on County Council. Once Johnson is sentenced, she will be a convicted felon and unable to serve on council under the law. District 6 includes the southern portion of Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Kettering, Largo, Mitchellville and Upper Marlboro.

“We hope that this sordid tale of corruption will help usher in a new era of honest government,” Rosenstein said.

Johnson was arrested along with her husband Nov. 12 during a sweeping federal probe of corruption in Prince George’s County.

Jack Johnson, 62, pleaded guilty May 17 to extortion and tampering with a witness and evidence. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each charge. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 15. Johnson served as county executive for eight years and previously served as the state’s attorney for Prince George’s County.

Erin Klema contributed to this report.

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