Johnsons' arrests have some in Prince George's wondering who is next

Leslie Johnson, who is charged with witness tampering and destruction of evidence, takes the oath of office as a member of the Prince George's County Council.
By Paul Schwartzman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 6, 2010; 7:53 PM

Tom Hendershot, a former Prince George's County Council member, ran into a buddy the other day, a zoning lawyer he has known for years, and gave him what he likes to refer to as the "Prince George's handshake."

"You know," Hendershot said with a throaty chuckle, "you rub each other all over and make sure there's no one wired."

As in electronically wired, courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Neither of them was wearing any devices, Hendershot was reassured to learn, but there's plenty of reason to wonder in Prince George's these days.

A new county executive took office Monday, and there's plenty of predictable talk about rebirth, reform and a government shakeup.

But all the good cheer cannot erase the recent memory of outgoing county executive Jack B. Johnson (D) and his wife, Leslie, being hauled off in handcuffs. Several police officers were subsequently busted as well. Federal investigators have promised more arrests, fueling speculation about who will be next - whose home and office will be raided and whose records will be subpoenaed.

There's even a homegrown parlor game, the Prince George's version of "Clue," in which players compete to identify "Developer A," the mystery man whom investigators said gave Johnson the $100,000 check that he allegedly told Leslie Johnson to flush down the toilet.

John Lally, a longtime county lawyer, went for lunch at an Upper Marlboro greasy spoon on a recent afternoon and found himself asked by a table of regulars whether he's the notorious Developer A.

"If I gave someone a $100,000 check, it would bounce to high heaven," Lally told them.

The discussion didn't end there. Who is Developer A, they wanted to know. Do you know him? Could it be . . . and then they'd offer up names?

Of course, there are plenty of guffaws about money stuffed in brassieres and toilets as newfangled deposit boxes, but the laughter is infused with a certain gallows quality and concern that words not be misconstrued or taken out of context.

Just in case someone is listening.

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