Prince George's County

Former Prince George's County councilman charged with embezzlement

Mel Franklin suddenly resigned Friday

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A Prince George's County councilman who suddenly resigned Friday has been charged with embezzlement.

Prosecutors say Mel Franklin embezzled more than $124,000 from his Friends of Mel Franklin campaign account from 2020 through at least October 2023.

According to the charges, Franklin used the money to pay for personal loans, credit card debt, his rent and cosmetic procedures, among other things.

For example, on July 10, 2022, Franklin used $305.62 from the Friends of Mel Franklin bank account to stay in a hotel room at the Westin National Harbor, checking in at 2:01 a.m. and checking out of the hotel at 6:21 a.m., charging documents say. The stay was not related to his campaign nor a legitimate expenditure of the Friends of Mel Franklin political committee.

The following March, prosecutors allege, Franklin used $807.74 from the account to purchase a one-night stay in an executive suite at the Gaylord National Resort through 

Maryland’s state prosecutor charged a recently resigned Prince George’s County councilman with embezzlement, theft and perjury charges. News4’s Walter Morris reports.

Franklin had no authority to use the money in the Friends of Mel Franklin bank accounts for his personal use or benefit.

The charges also say Franklin falsified reports to the state board of elections regarding expenditures.

“As chairperson, Franklin had a duty to ensure that campaign finance reports were filed with the state board of elections, under the penalties of perjury,” the charging documents say.

He faces 10 counts of felony theft, embezzlement and perjury.

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who is running for U.S. Senate, released a statement saying, "These allegations are disturbing and represent a serious breach of public trust. I have faith in the justice system, and if true, Mr. Franklin should be held accountable for his actions."

“My heart goes out to this county, because we deserve better,” Prince George's County State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy said.

Braveboy’s office isn’t handling the case because it revolves around campaign finance, so she just found out about the charges Thursday.

“While Mr. Franklin, like every other individual facing charges, have the presumption of innocence, to have these types of charges leveled against one of our elected officials here in Prince George’s County is just very disappointing,” she said.

Franklin served on the Prince George’s County Council since 2010, first for District 9 and at-large since 2018. He had two years left in his term, and a special election will be held to fill his seat.

At-large Councilman Calvin Hawkins said his office is poised to pick up the slack with constituents.

"Oh, I was very shocked, of course," he said. "I didn’t see that coming; I had no idea."

News4 reached out to Franklin for comment Thursday and again Friday.

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