WASHINGTON — Two members of the board in charge of issuing liquor licenses in Prince George’s County are facing federal bribery charges after the FBI searched the board’s headquarters in Largo, Maryland, Thursday morning.
Two county businessmen and two unnamed elected officials are also facing charges in the case, prosecutors said.
U.S. Attorney for Maryland Rod Rosenstein announced federal charges of bribery conspiracy against the board’s director, David Son, 40, and a board commissioner, 39-year-old Anuj Sud.
The owners of two liquor stores in the county also face federal charges. Prosecutors say Young Paig, 62, and Shin Lee, 55, bribed state and local officials in return for their support of legislation loosening liquor sales in the county.
Paig owns the Central Avenue Restaurant and Liquor Store and Lee owns the Palmer Liquor Store, both in Prince George’s County.
In an affidavit, prosecutors state that Son helped broker $4,000 bribes to persuade unnamed elected officials to pass a bill allowing Sunday sale permits to 100 liquor stores. In one case, authorities say surveillance video shows an unnamed elected official pulling stacks of cash out of his pockets to hand to a bank teller shortly after meeting with Paig, Lee and Son.
Prosecutors said Sud, the board commissioner, solicited bribes from lobbyists in exchange for voting a particular way during board hearings that would benefit the lobbyist’s client.
Rosenstein told reporters the arrests are a culmination of a four-year investigation into members of the liquor board.
Two yet-unnamed elected officials will also be charged, he said. A third lawmaker signed a plea deal, Rosenstein said.
All four men were expected in U.S. District Court on Thursday afternoon. If convicted, they face a maximum of five years in prison for the conspiracy charges and 10 years for the bribery charges.
FBI agents Thursday morning served a search warrant at the liquor board’s headquarters in Largo. Search warrants were also served at Lee’s and Paig’s businesses.
The Board of License Commissioners regulates more than 600 liquors, restaurants and other businesses.
This investigation comes one month after the chairman of the liquor board, Charles W. Caldwell III, resigned following his arrest for driving drunk outside MGM casino.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said he is “very concerned and deeply disappointed” in the officials’ arrest.
“I am concerned that today’s developments and the perception of corruption will be directed at the county government setting us back in our war against unethical and illegal behavior,” Baker said in the statement released Thursday afternoon, adding he “will leave no stone unturned to root out any and all county employees or appointees that are involved in any nefarious activity.”