The Washington Post

Jack Johnson given more time to prepare defense

The lawyer for former Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson on Friday backed off a request for a speedy trial on bribery charges, saying in court papers that the defense needs additional time to prepare.

Johnson, 61, a former prosecutor who was the county’s top elected official from 2002 to 2010, was indicted in February. Federal prosecutors allege in court papers that he traded business permits, millions in grant funding and other favors for money. He pleaded not guilty.

At Johnson’s March 15 arraignment, his lawyer, Billy Martin, requested a speedy trial, which would have been held within 70 days.

In a motion filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Martin wrote that more time was needed “to meet the ends of justice as the pending case is a complex case.”

Martin wrote that the defense has begun reviewing conversations agents recorded on wiretaps, key prosecution evidence in the case. Court papers quote Johnson in wiretaps talking about shaking down developers and demanding money for his wife’s campaign for a seat on the Prince George’s County Council.

“The defense has begun the laborious task of reviewing the affidavits in support of the wiretaps and listening to the conversations in anticipation of filing appropriate pre-trial motions,” Martin wrote. “Given the voluminous nature of the evidence, and the complexities of the Wiretap Act, the review and motions will not be completed within the time mandated by the Act.”

The Prince George’s corruption probe became public in November when Johnson and his wife, Leslie, 58, were arrested at their Mitchellville home and accused of conspiring to hide $79,600 in cash in Leslie Johnson’s underwear and to flush a $100,000 check from a developer down a toilet. At the time, both were charged with evidence and witness tampering.

U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte granted Johnson’s motion, which was not opposed by prosecutors.


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