Jack Johnson sentencing report tells quite a tale
Former Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson deserves no leniency when he comes up for sentencing next week on federal corruption and evidence-tampering charges, prosecutors are telling the judge in that case.
In a 76-page document, the U.S. Attorney's Office recounts Johnson's many abuses of the power of his office in the eight years he led the county after his election in 2002. The sentencing memorandum filed last week describes Johnson's actions as "one of the most egregious and notorious instances of corruption and obstruction of justice in Maryland history" -- an audacious claim in a state with a long record of felonious behavior in high office.
The prosecutors scoff at the defense argument that Johnson deserves any credit for his years of public service, arguing that the "pay-to-play" culture he contributed to did the county severe harm.
"Jack Johnson's venality adversely affected everyone who lived, worked and tried to do business in Prince George's County," prosecutors wrote. "During his eight-year tenure as the county's leader, Jack Johnson criminally and shamelessly flouted the public trust and abused his lawful authority."
Johnson, who pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement in May, could receive up to 14 years in prison when he faces the judge Dec. 6. The prosecution document outlines in explicit detail the reasons the government believes the sentence should be at or near the maximum. His wife,former County Councilwoman Leslie Johnson, faces sentencing Dec. 9 for her role in trying to cover up her husband's crimes by destroying a bribe check and concealing illicitly obtained cash in her bra. She faces up to 18 months.
The memo is not exactly light reading, but people with an interest in Maryland's tradition of political corruption may find it fascinating in its depiction of how one official's corruption can touch virtually every aspect of government -- from the regulation of liquor stores to the quality of physicians hired at the county hospital.