Montgomery County Official Gets 4 Years for Stealing $6.7M in Government Funds

Bang is likely to start serving his federal sentence in April

An official in Montgomery County, Maryland, who plead guilty to embezzling more than $6.7 million in county funds was sentenced Friday to four years in prison and three years of probation. A federal judge also told him to stay away from casinos.

Byung Il Bang, also known as Peter Bang, was the chief operating officer of the county Department of Economic Development.

Over the course of five years, Bang, 59, of Germantown, transferred $6,705,669 in county funds to his own bank accounts. Bang was tasked with supporting the growth of small businesses run by women and minorities, and in computer technology and biological technology.

U.S. attorney Robert Hur said Bang betrayed the public's trust. 

"Everyone who holds positions of trust should prove themselves worthy of that trust," he said. 

This is the largest fraud case in Montgomery County history. 

Here's how the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland says he did it. 

In 2010, the county partnered with a province in South Korea to create an incubator fund, apparently to support the growth of Korean-run businesses in the county. In July of that year, Bang incorporated a company called Chungbuk Incubator Fund LLC and opened four bank accounts in the company's name. He listed his home address as the address of the company, and gradually directed the funds to the accounts.

The Montgomery County Department of Finance transferred more than $5.4 million. The Maryland Economic Development Corporation transferred more than $1.2 million. And the Maryland Conference & Visitors Bureau transferred more than $43,000.

In addition to pleading guilty to stealing the funds, Bang admitted to failing to report the money on his taxes.

He was caught by the IRS after casinos reported that Bang cashed large checks and refused to reveal the source of the money. 

Bang still must determine how he will pay back what he took, as per his plea agreement. Most of the money is gone; he spent it in casinos across the country. 

Bang is likely to start serving his federal sentence in April. He still must be sentenced for additional local charges.

The federal court judge said in determining Bang's sentence she struck a balance between the good work he did for the county before the embezzlement and the severity of his crime.

County officials said they will increase oversight so no one is ever able to steal this much for this long again. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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