News Briefs from Around the State - Southern Maryland Headline News

News Briefs from Around the State

Johnson Indicted on Eight Counts, Including Bribery

Former Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson was indicted by a grand jury on eight counts in federal court Monday, setting up a probable court appearance for Johnson in early March, a U.S. Attorney spokeswoman said.

Johnson had been scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md., tomorrow for a preliminary hearing in which Magistrate Judge William Connelly would have made a ruling on whether or not there was enough evidence for the case to continue forward.

But Johnson's indictment made the preliminary hearing unnecessary. The former executive, arrested by FBI agents in November as part of a sweeping county corruption probe, was charged on eight counts including conspiracy, bribery, witness and evidence tampering.

The 31-page indictment alleges Johnson committed extortion and accepted bribes totaling more than $200,000 from developers starting in 2003 until he was detained by the FBI on Nov. 12, 2010. In return, Johnson assisted two developers, not named but listed as co-conspirators in the indictment, in obtaining land and county funding for projects.

Billy Martin, Johnson's lawyer, did not respond to phone messages left at his office.

The indictment also includes quotations from a number of phone conversations in which Johnson allegedly asked liquor store owner Amrik Singh Melhi to contribute money to the County Council campaign of his wife, Leslie Johnson.

Melhi was charged in November in a scheme to distribute untaxed alcohol and cigarettes.

A full transcript of a phone conversation that took place between Jack Johnson and Leslie Johnson, as the FBI waited at the couples' door in Mitchellville, also appears in the indictment.

"There's a little box and in the box there's a check," Jack Johnson said, according to the indictment. "Just tear it up or, or, or chew it up, somethin', OK?"

Jack Johnson also told Leslie Johnson to hide cash in her underwear, the indictment said. FBI agents found $79,600 cash in her bra and underwear after a search, the indictment said.

Leslie Johnson, who was elected to the County Council in November, is scheduled to be in federal court for a preliminary hearing on March 16. She faces charges of witness tampering and destruction of evidence.

—By Maryland Newsline's Alexander Pyles

Three Homicides in Two Days in Prince George's

COLLEGE PARK — A Suitland man was killed late Monday night, Prince George's County Police said, becoming the county's 19th homicide victim in 2011 and the third since Sunday morning.

A police spokesman said there did not appear to be a connection in the three homicides.

"It's just the same random chance that was plaguing us before," said police Cpl. Evan Baxter.

An arrest was made in one case today.

Thirteen people were killed in the year's first 13 days, prompting county executive Rushern L. Baker to call for citizens' help in identifying suspects on Jan. 18. There were three more homicides in the county in January after Baker's plea, upping the total to 16, but the pace of killings slowed as police flooded the streets with overtime patrols.

Those extra patrols ended in January, Baxter said, but there had been no homicides in February until Sunday morning.

The most recent victim was Darian Michael Hinton, 27, who was found unresponsive in the 900 block of Kennebec Street in Oxon Hill, Md., at 11:30 p.m. Monday, police said. He died at a local hospital.

Hinton's killing followed the death of Christopher Alan Trueheart, 44, who police say was killed by Eldridge Slaughter, 42, in a personal dispute. Slaughter has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

Truehart was found in an apartment in Temple Hills, Md., around 2 p.m. Sunday, about 10 hours after a Forestville, Md., man was found dead.

Ralph Bernard Thomas Jr., 28, of Forestville, was stabbed in the 7500 block of Marion Street in District Heights, Md. He died at a local hospital.

Police said Thomas was in an argument with the suspect at Silver Hill and Suitland roads before he was stabbed. The suspect and a passenger were seen leaving in a light blue, 2007 or 2008 model Chevrolet Malibu with a Maryland license plate, police said.

—By Maryland Newsline's Alexander Pyles

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