UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) — Leslie Johnson is keeping mum about her federal corruption case even as prosecutors are signaling that a resolution may be near.
The Prince George’s County councilwoman sat silently during a council meeting Tuesday, then headed out a back door as soon as the session was over — avoiding questions from reporters about her case and her future on the panel. A council spokeswoman emerged several minutes later to say that Johnson would not be available for comment.
It was the first council meeting since last Friday, when federal prosecutors filed a criminal information charging Johnson with conspiracy to commit evidence and witness tampering.
An information in a charging document typically indicates a defendant is preparing to plead guilty.
The U.S. Attorney’s office on Tuesday announced a May 4 arraignment and plea hearing for Johnson.
Her attorneys did not return calls seeking comment, and a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office has also declined to talk about the case.
Johnson was arrested last November along with her husband, then-County Executive Jack Johnson, on charges that they tried to destroy evidence in an ongoing federal corruption investigation probing pay-to-plea dealings.
Prosecutors say a recorded telephone conversation between the couple after agents showed up at their home depicts Jack Johnson directing his wife to flush down the toilet a $100,000 check that was given to him by a developer. Agents also found more than $79,000 in cash in Leslie Johnson’s undergarments, according to court papers.
Jack Johnson was indicted in February on charges including bribery and extortion. He has vowed to fight the charges.
Council Chairwoman Ingrid Turner said after the meeting that Leslie Johnson would have to give up her council seat if convicted of a felony. But she said she and her colleagues were keeping focused on county business and would not let themselves be distracted.
“All citizens are innocent until proven guilty,” she said, later adding, “Ms. Johnson is representing her citizens as she was elected to do.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)