Judicial Watch • Bribe Flushed, Stuffed In Bra

Bribe Flushed, Stuffed In Bra

Bribe Flushed, Stuffed In Bra

NOVEMBER 15, 2010

In a desperate and somewhat creative effort to conceal their crimes, a husband-and-wife team of elected officials in Maryland flushed a $100,000 bribe down the toilet and hid nearly $80,000 in cash in underwear.

The story brings to mind the scandal of a veteran Louisiana congressman (William Jefferson) nicknamed “Dollar Bill” for stashing a $90,000 bribe in his freezer. Last year Jefferson got convicted of nearly a dozen corruption counts and was sentenced to 13 years in prison for what federal prosecutors described as “the most extensive and pervasive pattern of corruption in the history of Congress.”

In this case the married couple helps run Prince George County, Maryland’s largest with a population of about 835,000 and 27 municipalities. The husband (Jack Johnson) leads county government as its elected executive and the wife (Leslie Johnson) is a councilwoman who was voted into office earlier this month. The county has the distinction of being the nation’s wealthiest with a black majority of residents.

For years the feds have suspected that Jack Johnson, who’s approaching the end of his second term, and other county officials have been taking bribes from real estate developers in exchange for personal and business favors. As FBI agents tried to search the Johnson mansion recently, Jack Johnson ordered his wife to flush a $100,000 bribe from a developer down the toilet and to hide nearly $80,000 in cash in her underwear.

The feds recorded the incriminating telephone conversation and subsequently found $79,000 in cash stuffed into Leslie Johnson’s bra, according to federal prosecutors. The bribes were paid to Jack Johnson by a developer who needed his help securing federal grants for affordable housing projects, according to the feds.

The Johnson’s were arrested at home, released on personal recognizance and placed on home detention with electronic monitoring. Each faces up to two decades in prison. Before getting elected to head the county, Jack Johnson was the county’s prosecutor for eight years. Leslie Johnson spent nearly 30 years working for the District of Columbia government before running for the Prince George County Council.

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