The wide-ranging corruption probe of Prince George’s County government that led to charges against county executive Jack Johnson late last week netted nine more arrests on Monday, including three police officers indicted on extortion, cocaine and gun charges.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said Monday’s arrests were “part of a series of related investigations into the corruption of Prince George’s County government officials.” Rosenstein said he expected the investigations to yield more charges and arrests.
The biggest bombshell so far in the probe came Friday when FBI agents caught Johnson and his wife Councilwoman-elect Leslie Johnson allegedly flushing a $100,000 check down a toilet and stuffing $80,000 in cash in Leslie Johnson’s underwear.
Rosenstein wouldn’t say if Monday’s arrests were directly related to the Johnson case, but described both cases as part of an ongoing look into official wrongdoing.
Two of the officers, Sgt. Richard Delabrer, 45, and Cpl. Chong Chin Kim, 42, are charged in one indictment with conspiracy to commit extortion in a scheme to sell untaxed cigarettes and alcohol. The third officer, Sinisa Simic, 25, was indicted in a separate bill on drug trafficking and gun charges.
“Police officers are given badges and guns to prevent crimes, but these police officers allegedly used them to commit crimes,” Rosenstein said.
The officers were called into the headquarters Monday morning and taken into custody by FBI agents as more than 150 law enforcement officials fanned out around the region to execute more than a half-dozen warrants from the four-year probe, authorities said. Prosecutors seek to seize $3.5 million, 25 properties, 13 vehicles and 84 bank accounts.
One of the places raided by law enforcement officers was Tick Tock Liquors in Langley Park, a site that has been plagued by drugs, stabbings and prostitution. Police officials who asked to remain anonymous said Delabrer had close ties to Amrik Singh Melhi, the owner of the liquor store and one of the defendants, and moonlighted for the business before police brass banned the practice.
According to the indictment naming the police officers, Melhi, 51, owned a number of liquor stores, and paid Delabrer, a 22-year-old veteran, and Kim, a 16-year-veteran, to use their authority to help smuggle untaxed cigarettes and alcohol from Virginia into Maryland.
The second indictment charged Simic, 25, and Mirza Kujundizic, 30, both of Woodbridge, with conspiring to distribute more than 500 grams cocaine and use of firearms in drug trafficking.
Meanwhile, Jack Johnson, who was ordered to wear an electronic monitor, returned to work to prepare next year’s budget and a blueprint for his successor Rushern Baker.
Johnson, 61, and his wife, 58, were arrested Friday and charged with tampering with evidence. According to charging documents, federal authorities had been investigating Jack Johnson since 2006 and last week said they confronted him moments after he was caught on camera accepting $15,000 in cash from an unnamed developer. The agents recovered the cash and let Johnson walk away, and then listened in while Johnson and his wife began a series of frantic phone calls about how to get rid of the money hidden in their house, documents allege.
When asked why Johnson showed up to work, spokesman Jim Keary replied, “It’s Monday.”