Government Wants At Least a Year in Jail for Leslie Johnson

Former Prince George’s County councilwoman convicted in corruption case

By JESSICA GRESKO
|  Thursday, Nov 10, 2011  |  Updated 9:12 PM EDT
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Caught at Dulles Customs

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Leslie Johnson walks into federal court.

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Prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence former Prince George's County councilwoman Leslie Johnson to a year or more in jail, saying she was part of a corrupt culture including illicit fundraising for her council race.

Johnson, the wife of former Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson, resigned her council seat after pleading guilty in June to destroying evidence in a federal corruption probe of her husband. She said her efforts to conceal illegal activity as federal agents closed in, including flushing an illicit $100,000 check down the toilet, were a solitary transgression, prosecutors wrote in a court document filed Tuesday.

Johnson said her conduct was a “discrete, one-time lapse in judgment,” prosecutors wrote in the court documents.

However, they said, “It was no such thing.”

A phone message left with Johnson's attorney, Shawn Wright, was not immediately returned Thursday afternoon.

Wiretapped phone conversations show Johnson was part of a “broader corruption and perversion of public values,” prosecutors wrote. In a 26-page memo filed with the court in preparation for Johnson's sentencing Dec. 9, prosecutors said she was aware of her husband's efforts to extort money from developers and other business people for her 2010 campaign.

In one taped phone call, she expresses certainty a developer will donate because he knows she will “help him.” Prosecutors wrote that Johnson “intended to devote her assistance as a public official to people who paid for it.”

In another call she tells her husband that her campaign had collected money from individuals in amounts more than $100, violating state campaign finance laws and asking “How should I do this?”

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