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Former Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson Sentenced To 7 Years, 3 Months In Prison

6:32 PM, Dec 6, 2011   |    comments
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GREENBELT, Md. (WUSA) -- Tuesday, former Prince George's County executive Jack Johnson was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison. He must pay a $100,000 fine, forfeit $78,000 and an antique Mercedes Benz. He is also required to serve 3 years of probation after he completes his prison term.

His prison term will begin in January. 

In court Tuesday, former county executive Jack Johnson apologized to Prince George's County, and his family, saying, "In my wildest dreams I could not imagine a place like this."

Jack Johnson pleaded guilty in May to receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from developers. His cash scheme unraveled last year when federal agents raided his home in Mitchellville.

LISTEN: Infamous Phone Call Between Leslie And Jack Johnson

PROSECUTORS: Jack Johnson Deserves Long Sentence

The courtroom was full Tuesday, and public and journalists were seated in the jury lounge, being used as an overflow room. About 50 people watched the courtoom proceedings on the television there.

The judge entered the courtroom around 10 a.m.  Opening statements began and Scott Broom reported that Jack Johnson asked for a sentence reduction due to his age and a medical condition. The defense said Johnson has symptoms of atypical Parkinson's Disease and that a long term sentence would be a "death sentence."

The prosecutor then revealed that Jack Johnson suffers from alcoholism, and suggested the tremors and symptoms are related to alcohol. The prosecution said the doctor's only diagnosis is "Parkinsonism," showing possible symptoms that could result Parkinson's but no diagnosis. The jail can take care of inmates with any ailment of neurological diseases, argued the prosecution. A Federal Bureau Prison Chief later confirmed that they maintain five medical centers capable of caring for Jack Johnson if he does have Parkinson's Disease.

The defense countered that Johnson is not a young man, he's 62, and due to his condition doctors advised him to exercise, which is why he played golf. The defense said that if Jack Johnson went to jail then it would also hurt his brother. Johnson's brother is a disabled veteran and Johnson is his primary caregiver, said the defense.

Following opening arguments, sentencing went on a 10 to 15 minute break while the judge discussed the medical issues with council in his chambers.

When break ended, the judge reviewed the sentencing guidelines and said that 62 was not old enough to warrant an early departure from jail. The judge said he would not accept an early departure based on age or family ties in the Jack Johnson sentencing. He also will not accept medical condition as a reason for a reduced sentence.

Then, the judge reduced the range of the sentence to 7 to 9 years based on Johnson's cooperation.

Final arguments were set to settle the exact sentence.

The prosecution argued that Jack Johnson shouldn't be honored special credit for the work he did in the county since that's what he was elected to do. It recommends 87 months in jail, a $150,000 fine and 3 years of supervised release.

The defense countered with: "Your Honor, Johnson decided to dedicate his life to public service. It was his vision to help Prince George's grow." Defense lawyer Billy Martin said the case represented Johnson's "fall from grace." Martin told the court, "We believe that Johnson should not be imprisoned on taxpayers dime." The defense suggests house arrest.

After his defense attorney read letters from his church and county residents defending his character, Jack Johnson addressed the court. Johnson apologized to Prince George's County, and his family, saying, "In my wildest dreams I could not imagine a place like this."  Johnson begged the court for mercy and said he is a very ill man.

He was later sentenced to more than 7 years in federal prison.

In a statement after the hearing, u.S. Attorney Rod J Rosentein said, "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."

FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely added in the statement,"We hope today's sentencing reaffirms the federal government's proactive stance to stamp out corruption by those elected officials who have betrayed the public trust."

Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker, released the following statement:

"My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Johnson and his family. As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult time for our County. We have worked hard over the last year to restore pride and confidence in the government with our residents, County employees and the business community. I believe that we have made good progress, making it clear that this County is moving forward. I also want to thank our County employees who have done a fabulous job delivering service and for being incredible professionals through this ordeal.

Any future developments that arise from this case will be examined and investigated by the Prince George's County government. Yes we are moving forward, but I will not tolerate any person or entity slowing down our march to greatness.

Our accomplishments are many, but I believe that our greatest accomplishment was coming together during one of our darkest hours and emerging a stronger and more focused County. We got better despite the situation and successfully improved the future of healthcare with the hospital MOU, created the $50 million EDI Fund to spur economic growth, reduced overall crime and we made education a top priority of this administration.

It was one year ago today that I took office. Since day one, I have been focused on the future of this County and not the past. Today's events have not changed my focus one bit and I will continue to work tirelessly to make this County the best it can be."

Jack Johnson was Prince George's County Executive from 2002 to December 2010. Before that he was the county's State's Attorney.

Johnson's wife, Leslie, is also scheduled for sentencing this week for her part in concealing illegal activity. Agents tapping Jack Johnson's cell phone listened as he asked his wife to flush a check down the toilet and put thousands of dollars in cash in her underwear. According to reports last month, prosecutors are asking that the former Prince George's County councilwoman serve a year or more in jail. Leslie Johnson resigned from her council seat after pleading guilty in June to destroying evidence in a federal corruption probe of her husband.

Follow @wusa9@kdambros and @scottbroom on Twitter for updates from the courthouse.

 

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