Archive for the ‘Prince George’s County corruption’ Category

Bowie Man Pleads Guilty in Prince George’s Extortion Scheme

Friday, April 1st, 2011

A Prince George’s County restaurant owner pleaded guilty to conspiracy and extortion in a scheme involving the transportation of untaxed cigarettes, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney in Baltimore.

Chun Chen, 34, of Bowie, Md., was named in charging documents as one of seven co-conspirators in the scheme. He is the first of the defendants to enter a guilty plea, Marcia Murphy said. The other six pleaded not guilty in November.

Chen faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will also forfeit the $2.66 million in lost tax revenue the state attributes to his dealings.

Since July 2009 Chen, also known as Eddy Chen, bought untaxed cigarettes from two co-conspirators, including one Prince George’s County Police officer, according to the plea agreement. Chong Chin Kim, a Prince George’s Police officer for more than 16 years, also bought untaxed cigarettes, the agreement said.

Former Prince George’s Police officer Richard Delabrer and Amir Milijkovic bought cigarettes without state tax stamps on the cartons — making them contraband — from an undercover FBI agent, then re-sold them to Chen and Kim, among others, the document said.

Delabrer transported or aided in the transport of the untaxed cigarettes from Virginia to Maryland, the agreement said. Sales tax on cigarettes in Virginia is $0.30 a pack; in Maryland, it is $2 a pack. After buying from Delabrer and Milijkovic, Chen would then sell those cigarettes to people in New York, where taxes on cigarettes exceed $8 per pack, the agreement said.

Chen and others listed in charging documents paid Prince George’s County Police officers to help ensure safe transport, the agreement said.


- By Maryland Newsline’s Alexander Pyles

Johnsons to Appear in Federal Court Next Week

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Prince George’s County Council member Leslie Johnson is scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday, a day after her husband, former county executive Jack Johnson, is set to appear.

Leslie Johnson will be in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt for a preliminary hearing Wednesday at 4 p.m. Preliminary hearings have been postponed twice, the first time in December. The most recent postponement came in early February, when the 6th District Democrat requested more time to prepare.

Hardy Vieux, Leslie Johnson’s lawyer, declined to comment.

She faces charges of witness tampering and destruction of evidence in an FBI corruption probe, according to court documents. Federal prosecutors have until the day of the preliminary hearing to indict Leslie Johnson. If indicted, the preliminary hearing would be canceled and an arraignment would be scheduled in federal court.

U.S. Attorney spokeswoman Vickie E. Leduc would not comment on the likelihood of an indictment.

Jack Johnson is scheduled in court Tuesday at 1:45 p.m. to enter a plea. He was indicted on eight counts, including bribery, on Feb. 14.

Jack Johnson’s lawyer, Billy Martin, did not respond to a phone message.

Related Special Report: FBI Probe in Prince George’s

- By Maryland Newsline’s Alexander Pyles

Johnson Indicted on Eight Counts, Including Bribery

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

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

Former County Executive to Appear in Court

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Former Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson is scheduled to appear in federal court next week for a preliminary hearing after being arrested in an FBI corruption probe in November.

The calendar for the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md., shows Johnson is expected to appear before Magistrate Judge William Connelly at 4 p.m Feb. 16.

Johnson was ensnared in a countywide FBI corruption probe in November. Court documents say FBI agents had learned “certain real estate developers in Prince George’s County … were regularly providing things of value to public officials in exchange for official acts that were favorable to these individuals and their companies.”

Also arrested in the probe was Leslie Johnson, a Democrat who was elected to County Council last fall. She is Jack Johnson’s wife.

Leslie Johnson had been scheduled to appear in court Feb. 16 as well, but requested and was granted more time to prepare.

Leslie Johnson was arrested by FBI agents at home in Mitchellville after her husband called her on his cell phone and told her to flush a $100,000 check from a developer down the toilet, court documents say. She also stuffed $79,600 in cash into her bra as FBI officials were knocking on their front door, documents say.

Earlier that day, Jack Johnson accepted a $15,000 payoff from a developer in exchange for his “official influence and authority,” court documents allege.

The countywide corruption probe led to the arrest of nine other people at the end of 2010, including three Prince George’s police officers.

Police Sgt. Richard Delabrer, 45; Cpl. Chong Chin Kim, 42; Langley Park store owners Amrik Singh Melhi, 51, and Ravinder Kaur Melhi, 49; Amir Miljkovic, 39; Chun Chen, 34; and Jose Moreno, 49, were charged in a plot to transport and distribute untaxed alcohol and cigarettes from Virginia and Maryland.

That trial was supposed to begin Jan. 11, but it was postponed and has not yet been rescheduled, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney. “That’s not unusual in a federal case,” Marcia Murphy said. “It could be any number of things, like attorney conflicts.”

Prince George’s County Police Officer Sinisa Simic, 25, and Mirza Kujundzic, 30, were named in a separate indictment related to drug trafficking, including the transportation and distribution of cocaine and illegally possessing firearms. Trial dates for Simic and Kujundzic have not been set.

–By Maryland Newsline’s Alexander Pyles

Related Link: Maryland Newsline Special Report: FBI Probe

Trial Date Rescheduled in P.G. Corruption Case

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

A jury trial in a Prince George’s County corruption case set for Jan. 18 has been postponed to a later date, said the U.S. District Court Clerk’s Office in Greenbelt, Md.

Prince George’s County Police Sgt. Richard Delabrer, 45, and Cpl. Chong Chin Kim, 42, Langley Park store owners Amrik Singh Melhi, 51, and Ravinder Kaur Melhi, 49, and Amir Miljkovic, 39, Chun Chen, 34, and Jose Moreno, 49, were charged in a plot to transport and distribute untaxed alcohol and cigarettes from Virginia and Maryland.

The trial was supposed to begin Tuesday after those seven were arrested in November in connection with an FBI corruption probe that also ensnared former Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson and his wife, Leslie Johnson, who serves on the County Council.

Prince George’s County Police Officer Sinisa Simic, 25, and Mirza Kujundzic, 30, were named in a separate indictment related to drug trafficking, including the transportation and distribution of cocaine and illegally possessing firearms. Trial dates for Simic and Kujundzic have not been set.

-By Maryland Newsline’s Alexander Pyles