The former director of the county's housing department was sentenced to 37 months in prison Monday in a Greenbelt federal courthouse for his role in a pay-to-play scandal in Prince George's County, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.
James Edward Johnson, 67, of Temple Hills, served as the director of the county's Department of Housing and Community Development starting in September 2009. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit extortion during his time as director through October 2010.
In his role, Johnson decided which developers would receive federal grant money from within the HOME Investment Partnerships program to “fund the construction, purchase and/or rehabilitation of affordable housing for rent or home-ownership.”
According to federal prosecutors, Johnson conspired to commit extortion with developers and other county officials—including former county executive Jack Johnson—“by obtaining things of value, including campaign donations, checks and money. In exchange for the bribes, James Johnson and other county officials performed and agreed to perform favorable official actions.”
James Johnson received between $400,000 and $1 million in bribes in connection with the scheme, according to the release.
U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte also said after serving prison time, James Johnson will be on supervised release for two years. He will also pay a fine of $25,000 and have to give up the $46,300 that was taken by investigators from his safe deposit box.
The sentence was announced by U.S. State's Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein and other federal agents Monday.
Others in connection with the case will face the following sentences according to the release:
- Jack B. Johnson, 63, of Mitchellville, was sentenced to 87 months in prison for his leadership role in the extortion conspiracy and tampering with a witness and evidence.
- Dr. Mirza Hussain Baig, 68, of Burtonsville, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion in connection with paying bribes to Jack Johnson and James Johnson. Baig faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced May 3.
- Patrick Q. Ricker, 53, of Bowie, pleaded guilty to his participation in the conspiracy and to tax evasion. Ricker faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and are scheduled to be sentenced on June 11, 2012.
All but one of the defendants have been convicted in the related investigations of corruption in Prince George’s County, according to the release.