Prosecutor: Pr. George's officer made light of drug running

Jack B. Johnson, Prince George's County's executive, was arrested Nov. 12 as federal investigators executed search warrants at the County Administration Building. His wife, Leslie Johnson, was also arrested. Each was charged with evidence tempering and destroying evidence.
By Ruben Castaneda
Wednesday, November 17, 2010; 10:21 PM

The Prince George's County police officer who was arrested Monday and charged in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy spoke as if it wasn't a big deal for an officer to move drugs, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday.

Federal agents recorded Officer Sinisa Simic, 25, as he talked to his alleged co-conspirator Mirza Kujundzic, 30, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Copperthite said during a detention hearing for Simic in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

"They discussed it as if it was another part-time job," Copperthite said. "They called it the 'protection business.' "

Copperthite said federal agents learned of Simic's cocaine conspiracy while investigating a scheme in which Simic and two other county police officers allegedly moved untaxed cigarettes and alcohol into Maryland, at the behest of the owner of a Langley Park liquor store.

Police Sgt. Richard Delabrer, 45, of Laurel and Cpl. Chong Chin Kim, 42, of Beltsville are charged with trafficking contraband cigarettes and alcohol.

Authorities say the liquor scheme was part of a broad corruption probe in Prince George's that became public Friday, when federal agents arrested County Executive Jack B. Johnson and his wife, Leslie.

The Johnsons were led from their home in handcuffs, accused of evidence-tampering in a probe of sweetheart land deals. They were arrested after Leslie Johnson allegedly flushed a $100,000 check down a toilet in their home and tried to hide $79,600 in cash in her bra as FBI agents knocked at the door of their home with a search warrant.

During Wednesday's hearing, Copperthite told U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day that Simic does not figure in the broader corruption investigation.

Simic was participating in the cigarette and alcohol scheme when he talked of wanting to move cocaine into Maryland and other locations, Copperthite said.

Simic began driving cocaine from Virginia into Maryland, the prosecutor said. While transporting the cocaine, Simic carried his police badge and weapon, while Kujundzic drove a vehicle behind Simic, Copperthite said. The idea was for Simic to "badge" his way out of trouble if he was stopped by law enforcement officers, Copperthite said.

The prosecutor said Simic was stopped twice by police in the Fairfax area. According to court records and Fairfax County authorities, Simic was charged with possession of cocaine in connection with a Sept. 3 traffic stop. Suspicious white powder was tested and turned out not to be an illegal drug, authorities said.

Federal agents wiretapped Simic's cellphone and videotaped him, Copperthite said.

They taped two encounters in which Simic and Kujundzic brought cocaine to a third person. Simic's police ID and firearm are clearly visible during the meetings, at which the cocaine was unpacked and repackaged, Copperthite said.

In recorded conversations, Kujundzic told Simic he should have his own weapon, and the two spoke of a .50-caliber Desert Eagle, a large, powerful handgun. When federal agents raided Simic's home, they found a .50-caliber Desert Eagle, indicating the officer intended to arm his alleged accomplice, Copperthite said.

Day ordered Simic held till trial.

Staff writer Tom Jackman contributed to this report.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company