Former Prince George’s County Councilman and Maryland state Delegate Will Campos pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges for political favors, the U.S. District Attorney’s office announced Tuesday.
During a press conference in Greenbelt, U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said the Campos case links with the case made against two Prince George’s liquor control board officials and two business owners.
FBI agents raided the liquor board office Thursday in Upper Marlboro after a 30-month investigation determined Dae Sok Son, 40, of Bowie, and Anuj Sud, 39, of Hyattsville, used their political influence for personal gain.
Rosenstein declined to specify how and why the cases are connected.
“This undercover operation did not involve an isolated instance of misconduct,” he said. “It exposed a longstanding practice of giving away taxpayer money in exchange of bribes.”
As for Campos, Rosenstein said he entered a plea agreement the same day FBI agents went to the liquor board office.
Campos, 42, of Hyattsville, whose full name is William Alberto Campos-Escobar, admitted he took bribes in exchange for favorable actions.
Rosenstein said Campos took money by setting up a fake nonprofit organization in order to entice businessmen to move into the county.
According to the plea agreement, Campos received up to $24,000 from two county business owners in exchange for $325,000 in grant money to entities controlled by those merchants.
The document also states while Campos served on council, Prince George’s County allowed each council member to award $100,000 in grant funds to nonprofit service organizations of their choice.
As part of his plea agreement, Campos will be required to forfeit and pay restitution of at least $340,000.
Campos released a statement through his attorney Barry Wm. Levine, apologizing to his family and supporters.
“Please pray for everyone who will be directly and indirectly affected by all of this,” he said. “Having gone through it myself, I know what lies ahead for many others and I will ask God to guide them through this as he has guided and blessed me. Once again, my sincerest apologies to all of you. I admit my failings. I only ask for your prayers during this very difficult time. I believe ultimate justice is with divine grace.”
Rosenstein said Campos, who represented District 2 on County Council from 2004 to 2014, conducted the bribery scheme during his time on council. Campos was elected as a state delegate in 2014 but resigned unexpectedly in September 2015.
“Mr. Campos’s favorite charity was to himself,” Rosenstein said. “His recorded comments revealed that he was cavalier about taxpayer money. He even told people to set fake nonprofit organizations in return for kickbacks from people who worked with him.”
Campos faces up to 15 years in prison for conspiracy and bribery charges and is scheduled for sentencing April 10.
At least two other elected officials may face similar charges.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III attended a Democratic luncheon Tuesday in Annapolis, one day before the Maryland General Assembly begins its 2017 session.
“When a public official raises his or her hand and pledges to uphold the Prince George’s County Charter or the Maryland Constitution, they are committing to live by a very high standard of trust and integrity,” Baker said in a statement. “I refuse to let today’s developments set us back and tarnish the reputation that this county has worked so hard to rebuild over the last six years.”
Prince George’s County Council Chairman Derrick Davis (D-District 6) of Upper Marlboro also released a statement after the charges became public.
“Any allegation of illegal behavior by public servants is unacceptable and disappointing, and the county council remains committed to working to ensure that every aspect of county government operates ethically and with a zero tolerance for corruption of any kind,” he said. “The citizens of Prince George’s County deserve government they can trust and officials that operate with the utmost integrity.”