During two terms as county executive, Johnson (D) was a popular figure who prided himself on transforming Prince George’s into “Gorgeous Prince George’s,” and helped improve the county’s standing on Wall Street, while also expanding emergency services and attracting businesses. But questions began to arise early in his tenure about possible misdeeds.
It turned out that he was doing illicit deals almost from the day he took office in 2002, according to federal prosecutors.
Former Pr. George's County Executive Jack Johnson is heard telling his wife to tear up a $100,000 check and flush it down the toilet. He then tells her to put $80,000 in cash in her bra and underwear. Jack Johnson was sentenced to 82 months on corruption charges.
The convictions of Jack and Leslie Johnson marked a sad moment in Prince George’s, a typical post-war Washington suburb that became a mecca for highly educated African Americans. The Johnsons were at one time held out as the epitome of this success, featured on the cover of a 1992 New York Times Magazine story about upwardly mobile blacks.
Jack Johnson, a lawyer who sometimes had trouble with garbled syntax, was seen by supporters as someone like many of them, arising from hardscrabble beginnings.
Leslie Johnson was for many years an administrative law judge in the District, and proudly spoke of herself as “the first lady” of Prince George’s before mounting a successful campaign in 2010 for the Prince George’s County Council.
The federal investigation came crashing down around them on Nov. 12, 2010, about three weeks before Jack Johnson was to leave office and Leslie Johnson was to be sworn in.
Jack Johnson admitted that beginning in 2003, he and other public officials accepted cash, airline tickets, rounds of golf and other items of value in exchange for influencing legislation, grant awards and a restaurant health inspection.
Leslie Johnson pleaded guilty to destroying evidence and later resigned her council seat. She had been overheard on a wiretap plotting with her husband to stuff $79,600 in her underwear and flush a $100,000 check from a developer.
By March 9, federal officials said she is expected to report for her 12-month sentence to Alderson, the West Virginia prison that housed Martha Stewart. Among its nicknames: Camp Cupcake.