Prince George’s Liquor Board Officials Charged With Bribery

Courtesy of WJLA-TV reporter Brad Bell via Twitter

Two officials on the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners and two liquor store owners were charged Thursday with bribery offenses to make favorable decisions on laws.

FBI agents raided the liquor board offices in Upper Marlboro after an investigation concluded David Dae Sok Son, 40, of Bowie, and Anuj Sud, 39, of Hyattsville, used their political influence for personal gain.

According to an affidavit from the U.S. Attorney’s office, Son was appointed in 2005 to serve as a commissioner on the liquor control board and remained until 2014. He served as a liaison to the county’s Senate delegation during the 2015 Maryland General Assembly and returned to the liquor board later that year as its director.

Sud currently serves on the liquor control board of commissioners and has worked as an attorney in College Park since 2005.
The county’s Board of License Commissioners are appointed by the governor that administers and enforces local and state alcoholic beverage laws, rules and regulations.

The criminal complaint states Son solicited and facilitated bribes from merchants Young Jung Paig, 62, of Beltsville, who owns Central Avenue Restaurant & Liquor Store in Capitol Heights, and Shin Ja Lee, 55, of Landover, who owns Palmer Liquor Store in Landover.

The complaint asserts the following: Son asked an elected official in 2015 to assist in passing a “Sunday sales” bill which established up to 100 Sunday liquor sales permits in Prince George’s.

Once the bill passed, Son arranged lunch in April 2015 with the elected official, Paig and Lee. During the lunch, Son told the official to meet Paig in the men’s bathroom, saying Paig will “hook you up.” Paig handed the official $4,000 in cash.

In October of that year, Son received a $4,000 bribe payment from a lobbyist for assisting so his clients received the Sunday sales licenses.

Sud voted in favor of a lobbyist client in two hearings in December 2015. After each session, Sud received $1,000 in cash. He received another $1,000 bribe payment in November for voting in favor of the lobbyist’s client.

If convicted, all four men face a maximum of five years in prison for conspiracy and a maximum of 10 years for bribery.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III issued a statement expressing disappointment in the two officials.

“I am concerned that today’s developments and the perception of corruption will be directed at the county government setting us back in our war against unethical and illegal behavior,” said Baker, who made ethics reform a part of his campaign platform in 2010. “I want the citizens of Prince George’s County to know that I will leave no stone unturned to root out any and all county employees or appointees that are involved in any nefarious activity.”

Last month, Charles W. Caldwell III, who chaired the county’s liquor board, was charged with driving under the influence and other traffic offenses after a minor crash with two other vehicles near the MGM National Harbor resort. No one was injured in the incident, police said.

Gov. Larry Hogan, who appointed Caldwell more than two years ago, has called for his resignation.

As of Thursday, the Prince George’s commissioners website doesn’t have Caldwell’s name listed.

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