Former Prince George’s liquor board director pleads guilty in sprawling bribery probe

WASHINGTON — The former director of the Prince George’s County liquor board, who prosecutors said brokered bribes to Maryland lawmakers in exchange for supporting changes to the state’s liquor laws, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy, bribery and obstruction of justice charges.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Maryland said David Dae Sok Son pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement, in which he admitted trying to tip off others suspected by the FBI of participating in a yearslong bribery ring involving the liquor board.

Son, 41, of Bowie, Maryland, served as a commissioner on the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners between 2005 and 2014 and returned to the board in 2015 as its director.

Prosecutors said Son solicited and facilitated thousands of dollars in bribe payments from Prince George’s County liquor stores owners to Maryland lawmakers Michael Vaughn and Will Campos for their support of Sunday liquor sales in the county.

Son faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the conspiracy charges, 10 years for bribery and 20 years for obstruction of justice. Son will be sentenced in January 2018.

In one April 22, 2015, encounter described in court documents filed by prosecutors, Son arranged a lunch meeting with between Campos, two liquor store owners and a lobbyist at which one of the liquor store owners met Campos in the men’s bathroom to hand over an envelope containing $4,000 cash, prosecutors said.

Campos pleaded guilty in January to federal bribery and conspiracy charges related to the case.

Prosecutors said Son also arranged a meeting between Vaughn and the two liquor store owners to make a “down payment” on further changes to Maryland’s “Sunday Sales” liquor licensing laws. After that meeting, prosecutors said Vaughn was caught on surveillance video pulling out stacks of cash from his pockets and handing it to the teller at a nearby bank to deposit, prosecutors said.

Vaughn, who resigned his seat in the house of delegates in January, was indicted in March on federal bribery and wire fraud charges for accepting the cash bribes from the business owners. He has pleaded not guilty.

After he was first questioned by the FBI in December 2016, prosecutors said Son attempted to tip off others caught up in the probe, telling them he had been “taken” by the feds and providing the names of other people who had supposedly “flipped” and were cooperating with investigators.

The multiyear, undercover probe that has ensnared liquor board officials, local business owners and state lawmakers, first became public earlier this year after the FBI raided the offices of the Prince George’s County liquor board in Largo, Maryland.

Last month, attorney and registered lobbyist Matthew Gorman pleaded guilty to bribing Campos in a scheme tied to the operations of the county’s liquor board.

In August, a federal grand jury indicted former Prince George’s County liquor board Commissioner Anuj Sud, of Hyattsville, Maryland, on bribery charges.

One of the liquor store owners, Young Jung Paig, 61, pleaded guilty in April to bribing state lawmakers in exchange for legislative changes to liquor laws. The other store owner, Shin Ja Lee, 55, pleaded guilty in May.

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