Two officials with the Prince George's County liquor board and two liquor store owners face charges in a bribery conspiracy in which officials were paid to make favorable decisions about liquor laws, federal prosecutors said.
The FBI served a court-ordered search warrant inside the Prince George's County Board of License Commissioners office in Largo, Maryland, Thursday morning, an FBI spokesperson confirmed. Agents collected boxes of files, and a note taped on the office door read "closed until afternoon." Agents also raided two liquor stores.
Board Director David Son and Commissioner Anuj Sud were charged, as were Central Avenue Restaurant and Liquor Store owner Young Jung Paig and Palmer Liquor Store owner Shin Ja Lee.
Son served as a commissioner on the board from 2005 to 2014, according to the U.S. attorney. He served as a liaison to Prince George's County's delegation to the Maryland Senate in 2015 before returning to the board as director.
The FBI accuses Son of arranging bribes to elected officials from lobbyists and business owners, including Paig and Lee, according to court documents.
In 2015, Son allegedly asked an elected official to help pass the Sunday Sales Bill -- which created up to 100 Sunday liquor sales in Prince George's County -- by talking to another elected official about it. Both voted in favor of it, and after it passed, Son set up a lunch with Paig, Lee and the official where Paig gave the elected official $4,000 in cash in the bathroom, according to court documents. Son also received $4,000 from a lobbysist for getting Sunday sales permits for the lobbyist's clients.
Son allegedly spoke to another elected official about a bill related to the Sunday Sales Bill on behalf of Paig and Lee, according to court documents. Paig and Lee agreed to pay up to $50,000, and the elected official agreed to introduce the legislation. Son arranged for a down payment in a shopping center parking lot, court documents say. Surveillance video from a bank at that shopping center shows the elected official depositing stacks of cash totaling $4,000.
The FBI also accused Son of arranging for bribes to an elected official for help moving a business to the county and for grants the official controlled.
Commissioner Sud, who has been licensed as an attorney in Maryland since 2005, is accused of taking bribes from a lobbyist in exchange for voting in favor of the lobbyist's clients at board hearing. Sud took three $1,000 bribes, according to court documents.
Two elected officials who informed the FBI in this case remain under investigation, according to court documents. One who stopped cooperating with the FBI signed a plea agreement. Officials expect to charge the other elected official.
Son, Sud, Paig and Lee face up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy and up to 10 years in prison if convicted of bribery. They made their intitial court appearances Thursday afternoon. Sud was released on bond but Son was kept in custody.
Commissioners on the board, which regulates the sale of alcohol at more than 600 liquor stores, restaurants and other businesses in the county, are appointed by Maryland's governor.
Recently, Gov. Larry Hogan asked the chairman of the board to step down after he was arrested and charged with DUI after he was involved in a crash with two cars as he left the grand opening of MGM National Harbor casino.
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