2nd former Md. delegate charged in liquor board probe

WASHINGTON — A former Maryland delegate from Prince George’s County has been indicted on federal bribery and wire fraud charges for accepting thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for supporting bills dealing with liquor laws and for stealing money from his campaign committee.

Michael Vaughn is the second former delegate from Prince George’s County charged as part of a multiyear public corruption investigation into the county board that issues liquor licenses.

A grand jury handed down the indictment on Monday. Vaughn, who stepped down from his seat just before the start of this year’s General Assembly session, is charged with four counts of bribery, three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy.

Vaughn made his initial court appearance on Wednesday and was released on bond, NBC Washington reported.

According to court documents, Vaughn conspired with the liquor board’s chief inspector David Son, who arranged bribes between Vaughn and three individuals beginning in 2015 through April 2016.

Vaughn accepted $6,000 from liquor store owners Young Paig and Shin Lee to influence his votes on bills that allowed the sale of liquor on Sundays in Prince George’s County, bills that benefited Paig and Lee. A third, unnamed individual, who was cooperating with investigators, also gave Vaughn $7,000.

Son, Paig and Lee have also been indicted as a result of the investigation.

Additionally, court documents say that Vaughn siphoned money from his campaign finance account to pay his federal income taxes and a credit card bill.

He also filed false campaign finance statements to the state’s board of elections to hide the withdrawal of funds for his personal use.

A campaign finance report filed in January 2015 claimed Vaughn’s campaign had more than $64,000 in cash but that the actual balance, according to bank statements, was about $1,600, according to court records.

Vaughn represented the county in the House of Delegates since 2003 until his resignation in January.

He resigned a day after prosecutors announced that another former delegate from Prince George’s County, William Campos-Escobar, had pleaded guilty to similar charges.

Campos admitted to accepting cash bribes from numerous individuals in exchange for directing tax-supported grants to nonprofit organizations selected by the individuals. Prosecutors say Campos received as much as $24,000 between 2011 and 2014 from two county businessmen. In exchange, Campos directed $325,000 in county grant funding to organizations controlled by the business owners.

Prosecutors have said that multiple other lawmakers are under investigation.

In a statement to WTOP, Amelia Chasse a spokeswoman for Gov. Larry Hogan, said Vaughn’s indictment highlights the need for state lawmakers to pass ethics reforms proposed by the governor.

“This news is disappointing but not surprising,” Chasse said. “The governor vowed to clean up the mess in Annapolis, and that’s exactly what he intends to do. Ultimately, we cannot let the actions of the few tarnish the goodwill and positive efforts of the many.”

If convicted of the charges, Vaughn could face a maximum of 105 years in a federal prison.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

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