Former Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson will serve more than seven years in jail after pleading guilty to extortion and witness- and evidence-tampering.
U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte sentenced Johnson to serve 87 months in jail. Messitte also ordered Johnson to pay a $100,000 fine and forfeit $78,000 and an antique Mercedes-Benz, according to a release from the U.S. attorney's office in Maryland.
Johnson has been represented by Dorsey & Whitney partner Billy Martin. Martin could not immediately be reached for comment this afternoon. Martin previously told The National Law Journal that Johnson is "a good man" and that he would be advocating for "a punishment that would be appropriate and allow him to move ahead with his life."
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said in a written statement that “Jack Johnson could have been a role model for integrity, but he chose to be a poster child for greed. The facts of this case read like a dime novel because the defendant acted as if corruption was the normal way of doing business. It is our responsibility to prove him wrong.”
Johnson, a former state’s attorney, served as Prince George’s County executive from 2002 to 2010. Federal agents raided Johnson’s home and arrested him and his wife, former Prince George’s County Councilwoman Leslie Johnson, on Nov. 12, 2010.
Jack Johnson was charged with taking bribes to tune of about $1 million to help steer federal grant money to local developers. Leslie Johnson was charged with helping her husband cover up evidence of the crime.
In a telephone call recorded by the FBI, Jack Johnson could be heard telling his wife to flush a $100,000 check down the toilet and hide about $79,600 in cash in her underwear as federal agents knocked at their door.
Jack Johnson faced a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. According to the Washington Times, Messitte had agreed to a lower sentencing guideline than the charges usually carry because Johnson cooperated with authorities. Johnson’s attorneys argued for leniency on Tuesday because Johnson had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but prosecutors disputed that claim.
Leslie Johnson pleaded guilty to the charges of destroying evidence and is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 9.