Jack Johnson arrested: Search warrants in progress, more arrests expected
UPDATE 8:21 a.m. Three Prince George’s County police officers have been arrested in connection with the same corruption probe that led to the arrest of county executive Jack Johnson on Friday, ABC7 has learned. According to federal law enforcement sources, a “second round is underway.” Search warrants are being executed in several locations around Prince George’s County.
ORIGINAL Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson declared Friday night that he and his wife would "be vindicated," hours after the two were charged with destroying evidence related to a two-year federal corruption probe.
Federal agents arrested Johnson and his wife, county councilmember-elect Leslie Johnson, after raiding Johnson's home and offices Friday morning.
Jack Johnson instructed his wife to flush a $100,000 check down a toilet and stuff cash in her bra earlier in the day, according to the criminal complaint.
"Put it in your bra and walk out or something, I don't know what to do," Jack Johnson allegedly told his wife after she called him to say that two women were at the door.
Agents who eventually searched Leslie Johnson recovered $79,600 from her underwear. The FBI was using court-approved wire taps to record the conversation.
Jack and Leslie Johnson appeared in U.S. District Court late Friday afternoon. Both Johnsons were charged with witness and evidence tampering, and destruction, alternation and falsification of records in a federal investigation. If convicted, they could each face 20 years in prison, and $250,000 in fines. Both were supposed to be immediately released under court supervision, with Jack Johnson ordered on house arrest with electronic monitoring.
"I cannot go into these allegations because my lawyers will kill me if I do," Johnson told reporters assembled on the courthouse steps. "But let me say that I am innocent of these charges, and I just can't wait for the facts to come out, and when they come out I am absolutely convinced that we will be vindicated."
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, in an earlier news conference, said the case was ongoing and called the investigation the tip of an iceberg.
"We still have several real estate developers and government officials to be interviewed," he said at a press conference Friday night, adding that there could be more charges and defendants.
Federal agents on Friday executed 13 search warrants today as part of a far-ranging, years-long investigation into corruption in Prince George's County government related to land and housing deals, according to a federal law enforcement source. Search warrants were for at least the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro, and the Johnson home in Mitchellville.
An unidentified developer this month gave Johnson $5,000 in exchange for the benefit of his "official influence and authorities," according to the affidavit, and also gave Johnson $15,000 this morning, a transaction that was recorded on video. An investigator believes Johnson lied to to FBI agents who asked about his relationship with the developer and the money that was exchanged, the documents state.
Investigators believe the developer also gave Jack Johnson a $100,000 at an unidentified time check in exchange for help securing funding for projects in the county.
FBI agents on Friday knocked on the door of the Johnsons' home, the affidavit states. Leslie Johnson called her husband, who told her to not answer the door. Jack Johnson told his wife to get a check from a drawer in their bedroom. He told her to stash cash in her underwear and destroy the check. Investigators overheard a toilet in the background and believe the check was flushed.
WTOP reported that a source close to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore says the investigation is linked to a developer who sought to involve Jack Johnson in a land deal at the Greenbelt Metro station. The investigation is also linked to the transfer of a residential property involving Jack Johnson, the source says.
A plumber called to the Johnson residence said the FBI wanted him to see if any evidence had been flushed down toilets. Shortly before he left the home, the plumber said he hadn't found anything in the search. He was on the scene for about 45 minutes.
"He would never do anything wrong," said Helen Berger, a neighbor. "I don't know what this is about. But I can say he is a good, good man."
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