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Leslie Johnson Enters Guilty Plea

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Mike Hellgren 370x278 Mike Hellgren
WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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GREENBELT, Md. (WJZ) –Dirty money. She tried to hide thousands of dollars in bribes. But Leslie Johnson can’t escape the law. The powerful wife of a former county executive pled guilty in a sweeping federal corruption investigation.

Mike Hellgren reports that Johnson admits she made a mistake, but she refuses to step down from her elected position.

Under sentencing guidelines, Johnson will likely spend a year to a year and a half behind bars.

Johnson–known for her polished outfits and unflappable demeanor–didn’t have a hair out of place when she showed up to plead guilty to federal evidence tampering charges.

A far cry from the picture prosecutors painted of her last November when she frantically hid almost $80,000 in her bra and panties and flushed a $100,000 check down the toilet while FBI agents raided her home.

“I made a mistake, for which today I accepted responsibility for my conduct,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s husband—former Prince George’s County executive and top prosecutor Jack Johnson— already admitted his role in shaking down wealthy developers and lining his own pockets with the cash.

“Jack and Leslie Johnson are guilty of a disgraceful abuse of the trust placed in them by the citizens of Prince George’s County,” said Rod Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney.  “The people deserve representatives of integrity and character. But unfortunately, we know from experience, they’re not always going to get that.”

Leslie Johnson was sworn in as a county Council member—after the raid—and refuses to step down.

“I look forward to continuing to serve and making a positive difference to the lives of people in need,” she said.

The feds say they can’t force her out before she heads to prison.  But they hope these prosecutions send a powerful message to the people that corruption won’t be tolerated.

“They deserve to know the decisions they make are to enrich the county as a whole, not their own pocketbooks,” said Richard McFeely, FBI.

The U.S. Attorney says this case is still open, and there could be more indictments.

Leslie Johnson will be sentenced in October. She will be out on probation until then.

While the government has agreed to a 12-18 month sentence, the maximum for her crime is 20 years in prison.

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