POLITICS

Council, County Executive Baker urge Leslie Johnson to leave seat now

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Leslie Johnson resigned from the Prince George's County Council Tuesday morning after she entered a guilty plea on charges of obstruction of justice and destroying evidence in a sweeping federal corruption probe that also netted her husband.

In a written statement, Johnson said, “After careful thought and consideration, I tendered my resignation this morning as a member of the Prince George's County Council of District 6 as of July 31st 2011, the last day before the August recess. My resignation is important for constituents of District 6 so the district can be in the best possible position to continue to move forward. I again apologize for my mistake. I am deeply honored to have had the opportunity to serve the residents of District 6.”

While Johnson resigned effective July 31, council members and Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker III. urged her to make room immediately.

Shawn Wright, Johnson's attorney, tells ABC7 News that Johnson gave her resignation letter to Council Chair Ingrid Turner on Tuesday morning and that it takes effect the day before the council goes into August recess.

Johnson showed up for a council hearing Tuesday morning, stayed for the prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance and then left.

In federal court, Johnson admitted that she destroyed a $100,000 check to former County Executive Jack Johnson, her husband, and tried to hide $80,000 in cash in her underwear as federal agents were at the door to arrest her.

She will be sentenced on Oct. 13, and could get up to a year and a half in prison.

Jack Johnson could be sentenced to more than a decade in prison after he also pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

After an hour-long private session Tuesday, the remaining eight council members returned to demand Johnson resign immediately. The council has passed a unanimous vote to take control of the funding for District 6.

Her staff will now report to the president of the council. They have also taken away Johnson's car, staff and cell phone but she will draw her salary until July 31.

County Executive Baker also released a statement urging Johnson to leave her seat now. "No delay is necessary; Furthermore, it is crucial that a new council member be smoothly transitioned into the office as soon as possible," he stated.

Johnson may remain a council member in name and collect her pay for another 3 ½ weeks, but she has no staff and no longer appears welcome on the dais. District 6 voters ABC7 spoke to say since she's pleaded guilty to a felony in federal court she ought to go immediately.

“Because it's a disgrace in the county and I live in this area and we should have representation and she can’t represent us,” said Linda Marshall.

Vincent Roberts said that “if she were thinking about the good of Prince George’s county … she would step down right away.”

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