Get real, G-men. Only an idiot would do what the FBI says Johnson did.

The Washington Post's Robert McCartney discusses the latest developments in the arrest of Prince Georges County Executive Jack Johnson.
By Courtland Milloy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 14, 2010; 7:21 PM

Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson ought to have a fairly easy time getting the charges against him dropped. It's obviously a case of mistaken identity. Only a nincompoop would do what the FBI alleges he did.

For instance, on Friday morning, federal agents say they confiscated $15,000 that a real estate developer had just handed to Johnson in exchange for Johnson helping the developer get federal funds.

Then, they borrowed the county's executive's cellphone.

"After FBI agents imaged the telephone, they returned the phone to Jack Johnson, who then left the area," according to the FBI affidavit.

Now, who in their right mind would use that bugged phone just minutes later to tell his wife, who was at home with FBI agents knocking on the front door, "Tear up the check," grab $79,000 in cash, and "put it in your bra and walk out or something," as the FBI alleges Johnson did?

Get real, G-men. We're talking about a former county state's attorney, not some dumb kid from an episode of "The Wire," aren't we?

In 2008, the FBI raided the homes and offices of two of Johnson's closest senior aides. Johnson responded at the time through his spokesman: "This is, what, the third fishing expedition? They have not yet caught even a minnow."

Only a man with nothing to hide thumbs his nose at the FBI. Otherwise, common sense would say: Lie low, Jack. Better ease on home and tidy up. Give yourself time to think: In case of an emergency, would the wife's bra really be the best place to hide a large sum of cash? If a developer gives me a check for $100,000 in 2007 and the FBI raids my pals in 2008, maybe I shouldn't wait until 2010 before deciding to flush the check. I'm just saying.

So here we are two years later, and the feds are apparently still hung up on the minnow remark.

"We don't go on fishing expeditions," U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said at a news conference Friday, announcing the arrest of Johnson and his wife, Leslie, on charges of tampering with evidence and destroying evidence in a corruption case involving real estate developers and county officials.

"We expect additional defendants and additional charges," Rosenstein said.

How could that be? Everybody knows by now how the FBI operates - wiretaps, videotape surveillance, stings, informants, raids, tails, Global Positioning System tracking. What elected official still dares to mess with the G-men?

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