PETULA DVORAK

Equal partners in crime isn't something to aspire to, ladies

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Years spent on the bench as a judge, the founder of social service organizations to help underprivileged women, a PTA mom, a grandmother, a public official - and what will most folks think of when Leslie Johnson comes up?

That bra. The cash. And the seemingly improbable physics of the whole caper.

According to an FBI affidavit, the wife of Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson was on the phone as the feds were at her door last week, stashing cash in her bra and flushing a check down the toilet as per her husband's instructions.

If the allegations are true, Johnson will join a very rare creature in popular American culture: the wife who allegedly knew about the scandal under her nose and also served as an uber-accomplice.

For the most part, the female halves of the traditional, vanquished power couple take two forms.

The most common is the woman who knows her husband's shirt size, preference in sock brands and just how he takes his coffee yet had no earthly idea about the scandalous life that soaked their every breath.

"I am embarrassed and ashamed. Like everyone else, I feel betrayed and confused," said Ruth Madoff, in a statement she issued soon after the ultimate Ponzi swindler, her husband Bernie Madoff, was sentenced to 150 years in prison. "The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known for all these years."

Linda Lay sobbed as her husband, former Enron chief executive and chairman Kenneth Lay, was convicted, after she cried on national television about having to sell ALL of her homes (take a look at the six-elevator condo she held on to longest). She said the coverage of the Enron scandal "is a perfect example of how the media can play such havoc and destruction in people's lives."

And of course, poor Karen Kozlowski stood by when her now ex-husband, former Tyco International chairman L. Dennis Kozlowski, paid for her $2 million birthday bash on the island of Sardinia, a party complete with an ice sculpture of David that peed vodka.

Don't all executives' wives get that?

So much for the old-fashioned clueless wives who flitted from social event to spa appointment with no knowledge of where the dough was coming from.

Ladies, we have a new breed of feminist among us: the willing, wily and skillful accomplice. A Lady MacBeth in Tahari.


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