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Posted at 04:05 PM ET, 03/25/2011

Step toward plea in Leslie Johnson case


Prince Georges County Council member Leslie E. Johnson. (Mark Gail - WASHINGTON POST)
Federal prosecutors in Maryland filed a criminal information Friday charging Prince George’s County Council member Leslie Johnson (Mitchellville) with conspiracy to commit witness and evidence tampering, a legal step that often means a defendant is likely to plead guilty.

Johnson and her husband, former Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), were arrested in November as part of a far-reaching federal corruption probe in the county.

As FBI agents knocked on the door of the Johnsons’ Mitchellville home on Nov. 12, the couple were overheard on a wiretap plotting to flush a $100,000 check from a developer down the toilet and hide $79,000 in Leslie Johnson’s bra, according to court papers.

FBI agents said in court papers that they came to search the home as part of an investigation which revealed that developers and others in the county had been “regularly providing things of value” to public officials in return for favors.

The felony charge against Leslie Johnson deals only with her actions that November day, and does not accuse her of bribery.

If convicted of a felony, she would have to step down from her council seat. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. No court date has been set.

Jack Johnson was indicted Feb. 14 on bribery charges. He pleaded not guilty and said he will fight the charges.

By  |  04:05 PM ET, 03/25/2011

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