Prince George's County Councilwoman Leslie Johnson has pleaded guilty in federal court to charges connected to the corruption probe that netted her husband, former county executive Jack Johnson.
Leslie Johnson was accused of trying to destroy evidence as FBI agents knocked on the door of her Mitchellville, Md., home last November.
She pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to commit witness and evidence tampering. With her guilty plea, she will have to resign her seat upon sentencing, which is scheduled for Oct. 13. The maximum sentence she could receive is 20 years in prison.
However, in a brief statement outside the courthouse Thursday, Leslie Johnson gave no indication she would resign her seat before she is sentenced.
"I look forward to continuing to serve and making a positive difference in the lives of people in need," Johnson said.
"I made a mistake for which I today accepted responsibility," Johnson added. "I only ask not to be defined by this mistake."
She then left, choosing not to respond to questions.
County Executive Rushern Baker urged her to step aside.
"It is critical for the residents of the 6th District to have consistent representation on the Prince George’s County Council," he said. "It is my opinion that if Ms. Johnson resigned, the Prince George’s County Council’s summer recess could be utilized to prepare for the inevitable special election, thus allowing the residents of the 6th District more immediate representation while minimizing the time that the seat would remain vacant."
Prosecutors said Johnson hid nearly $80,000 in her underwear and flushed a check for $100,000 down the toilet. As part of the 16-page plea agreement, she has already forfeited the nearly $80,000.
Her husband, Jack Johnson has already pleaded guilty to corruption charges and will sentenced in September.
“We hope that this sordid tale of corruption will help usher in a new era of honest government,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein in a statement. “Every government official in Maryland swears to serve faithfully without partiality or prejudice, but some officials are tempted to violate that oath. Honest government requires meaningful checks and balances that deter corrupt officials from abusing their power and detect them when they betray the public trust.”
“Leslie Johnson's criminal actions, which occurred after the November elections, violated the very essence of fairly representing her constituents who elected her to office,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard McFeely. “A willing partner in her husband's attempts to destroy the evidence that implicated his own corrupt acts, today's conviction is a major step forward in bringing to justice those elected officials who have violated the trust bestowed upon them.”
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