Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson and his wife, who was just elected to the county council herself, were arrested at their home in a D.C. suburb on Friday and charged with trying to hide or destroy evidence of a bribe by a local contractor.
How did Leslie Johnson reportedly try to destroy a check and hide the allegedly ill-gotten cash? By flushing the check down the toilet and stuffing tens of thousands of dollars in cash in her bra, according to the FBI.
Leslie Johnson is said to have been speaking to her husband on the phone at around 10:10 a.m., shortly after he was questioned and searched by FBI agents as part of an investigation involving bribes from developers, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Wendy H. Munoz. Two female federal agents were knocking at the door of the home, looking to execute a search warrant. During that conversation, apparently taped by investigators, Jack Johnson allegedly told Leslie Johnson to put “the cash” in her underwear. “I have it in my bra,” she allegedly replied.
Jack Johnson then allegedly told his wife not to answer the door and to go into their bedroom to retrieve a check from a developer from a dresser drawer.
Leslie Johnson asked, “Do you want me to put it down the toilet?” according to the feds. Jack Johnson allegedly replied, “Yes, flush that.” Agents then reported hearing what they thought was a flushing toilet, according to the affidavit.
After searching the home and Leslie Johnson, agents found $79,600 in unspecified bills in her underwear, according to the affidavit.
Agents say the check that was flushed was for $100,000 and was given to Johnson in return for his support of an unnamed developer’s project. “Tear it up; that is the only thing you have to do!” Johnson said to his wife, according to the affidavit.
Federal agents charge that Johnson lied to them about his relationship with an unnamed “Developer A” who allegedly provided Johnson with $15,000 in currency on Friday. It appeared to be part of an FBI sting, as agents entered the room shortly after the payment. Johnson told them that the cash was for a party marking the end of his term as County Executive and claimed to have no business dealings with the developer.
FBI agents searched Johnson and recovered the cash he was given as well as a phone that was being tapped by the government. A phone call by TPMMuckraker to that telephone number went to a voicemail box that had not been personalized. It was that cell phone, returned to Jack Johnson in the wake of the search at his office, from which he placed the calls to his wife allegedly asking her to hide the cash and destroy the check.
The Washington Post reported that the couple were taken away in handcuffs separately shortly before 1 p.m. Johnson was wearing a “camel-colored suit and white shirt” and did not address questions, the newspaper reported.
Just after 1 p.m., a plumber who said he was called by the FBI showed up at the home, the Washington Post additionally reported. “I’m checking the toilet to make sure there is nothing in them,” Steve Wilson of Gene’s Plumbing in Harwood told the newspaper.
Sources told the Washington Post that at least 12 warrants were served in the investigation, including at the Upper Marlboro headquarters of the Prince George’s County government.
According to the below affidavit, the investigation began back in 2006, around the same time that an investigation by the Washington Post of Johnson’s first term in office found that he had given fifteen friends and allies fifty-one county contracts totaling nearly $3.3 million.
Read the affidavit below: