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Friday, January 06, 2017
Fed: 4 Charged In Liquor Board Bribery Conspiracy
Prince George’s County Liquor Board Officials and Business Owners Charged in Federal Bribery Conspiracy
“Our government is not supposed to work that way”
Greenbelt,Maryland – Prince George’s County Liquor Board officials, David Dae Sok Son, age 40, of Bowie, Maryland, and Anuj Sud, age 39, of Hyattsville, Maryland, and Prince George’s County business owners, Young Jung Paig, age 62, of Beltsville, Maryland, and Shin Ja Lee, age 55, of Landover, Maryland, are charged by criminal complaints with a bribery conspiracy. The defendants allegedly conspired to engage in bribery in order to influence public officials in the performance of their official duties in Prince George’s County. Son, Paig, and Lee are also charged with a bribery conspiracy to influence the State of Maryland.
The charges were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Thomas Jankowski of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
“The defendants allegedly paid cash bribes to state and local officials in Prince George’s County in return for favorable action concerning liquor licenses,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Our government is not supposed to work that way.”
“Public corruption is a betrayal of trust and erodes the very core of the government's purpose to serve the people,” said Special Agent Gordon B. Johnson of the FBI's Baltimore Division.
Son currently is Director of the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners (Liquor Board). Son previously was a Commissioner on the Liquor Board from 2005 through 2014. During the 2015 Maryland legislative session, Son served as a liaison for the Prince George’s County Senate delegation. He returned to the Liquor Board later in 2015 as its Director.
Sud is a current Liquor Board Commissioner and has been a licensed attorney in Maryland since 2005, with offices in College Park.
Paig is the owner of Central Avenue Restaurant & Liquor Store and the resident agent of Weeping Willow, Inc.; and Lee is the owner of Palmer Liquor Store and the resident agent of Multi-Bil, Inc. Both stores are located in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Son, Paig, and Lee
The affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint alleges that Son solicited and facilitated bribes, from lobbyists and business owners, including from Paig and Lee. The bribes ranged from $1,000 to $5,000. From 2012 to 2013, Son facilitated three bribe payments to an elected official, for assistance in moving the source’s business to Prince George’s County, and to obtain County grants controlled by the elected official.
Beginning in 2015, Son solicited and facilitated bribe payments from lobbyists and business owners who were interested in the “Sunday Sales Bill,” which established up to 100 Sunday liquor sales permits in Prince George’s County. The bribes were intended to influence public officials in the performance of their official duties. For example, in 2015, Son had asked the elected official to assist in passing the Sunday Sales bill by talking to one of his colleagues about the bill; both subsequently voted in favor of the bill. On April 22, 2015, after the passage of the bill, Son arranged a lunch with the elected official, with Paig and Lee. During the lunch, Son told the elected official to meet Paig in the men’s bathroom, saying that Paig is “…going to hook you up.” In the men’s bathroom, Paig handed the elected official an envelope containing a total of $4,000 cash. On October 19, 2015, Son received a $4,000 bribe payment from a lobbyist for his assistance in ensuring that the lobbyist’s clients received Sunday Sales licenses.
Lee and Paig subsequently talked to Son about getting beneficial legislation introduced related to the Sunday Sales bill and indicated that they would be willing to pay $50,000 to make that happen. Son spoke with a second elected official who agreed to introduce legislation. On November 10, 2015, Son arranged for Paig and Lee to meet with the second elected official so they could make a “down payment.” After the meeting, law enforcement observed Paig and the second elected official get into the elected official’s car, while Lee and Son waited in the parking lot. Shortly after Paig got out of the car, the elected official drove directly to a bank in the same shopping center. Bank surveillance video shows the elected official pulling a stack of cash out of his right pocket and handing it to the teller, then doing the same from his left pocket. Bank records show that the elected official deposited a total of $4,000.
According to the affidavit filed in support of Sud’s criminal complaint, in September 2015, Sud solicited bribes from a lobbyist in exchange for Sud’s assistance with liquor board matters. At a subsequent meeting, Sud and the lobbyist discussed Sud voting favorably in two upcoming hearings concerning the lobbyist’s clients, in exchange for money. The lobbyist advised that the hearings would take place on December 2 and December 15, 2015. At each of the hearings, Sud took favorable action on behalf of the lobbyist’s client. Following each hearing, the lobbyist met with Sud and gave Sud $1,000 cash for Sud’s assistance. Similarly, on November 30, 2016, Sud received a $1,000 bribe payment in exchange for taking favorable action on behalf of the lobbyist’s client.
If convicted, Son, Sud, Paig and Lee all face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy, and a maximum of ten years in prison for bribery. Initial appearances are scheduled before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, 6500 Cherrywood Lane, for Son and Sud beginning at 1:30 p.m., and for Lee and Paig beginning at 3:15 p.m.
A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, IRS-CI, and Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas P. Windom and James A. Crowell IV, who are prosecuting the case.