Prince George’s County Developer Karl Granzow Sentenced To 18 Months in Prison in Extortion Scheme
High Ranking Public Official Used His Position to Further His Own Development Projects, and Failed to Pay Taxes on $225,974 of Income for 2004
Greenbelt,Maryland - U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced retired Prince George’s County Fire Department official Karl Granzow, age 47, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, today to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to commit extortion and cause false statements to be filed with the Federal Election Commission, and to income tax evasion. Judge Messitte also entered an order that Granzow pay a fine of $10,000 and forfeit his financial interest in Greenbelt Metropark.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Rick A. Raven of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
According to court documents, Granzow was an official with the County Fire Department, responsible for the Management Services Command, and earning more than $156,000 a year when he retired. Granzow and other co-conspirators, including developers Daniel I. Colton and Patrick Ricker, had ownership interests in Greenbelt Metropark, which sought to design, develop and build a mixed-use project near the Greenbelt Metro Station, called Greenbelt Station.
According to his guilty plea, from 1997 through September 11, 2008, Granzow, Colton, Ricker and others provided money, trip expenses, meals, drinks, hotel rooms, airline tickets, rounds of golf, employment, mortgage payments, employment and monetary and in-kind campaign contributions to state and local government officials in exchange for: approval letters for the Greenbelt Station Detailed Site Plan; providing the conspirators with non-public County information; obtaining necessary state and local approvals for the development of Greenbelt Metropark; voting in favor of legislation favorable to their development projects; creating the Greenbelt Station Special Taxing District; ensuring that Greenbelt Station was listed as priority number five under the State Highway Administration list of project/construction priorities; and, ensuring that a certain developer would obtain a contract to purchase certain buildings for the County.
State and local officials concealed items they received from Granzow and his co-conspirators by failing to report them or by misrepresenting their nature and value. Further, Granzow and his co-conspirators concealed campaign contributions to the state and local officials that were above state and federal legal limits by using conduits and in-kind contributions. Specifically, Granzow and his co-conspirators recruited “straw donors,” including family members and employees, to make state and federal campaign contributions with funds provided by or reimbursed by Granzow and his co-conspirators. Granzow and his co-conspirators also provided in-kind contributions to conceal the actual amount of their campaign contributions, such as campaign signs, food, alcohol and the administrative services of their employees and family members.
During the course of the scheme, including illicit campaign contributions and property provided by Granzow and his co-conspirators, the value of things obtained by public officials and others acting with a public official attributable to Granzow is between $30,000 and $70,000.
Additionally, Granzow prepared or caused to be prepared a federal income tax return for the calendar year 2004 which failed to report $225,974 in taxable income, resulting in a tax loss of $74,191.
Daniel Colton, age 62, of Annapolis, Maryland and Raleigh, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion and to making false statements to the Federal Election Commission. Colton faces a maximum penalty of five years on each of those counts. His sentencing has not been scheduled. Co-conspirator Patrick Q. Ricker, age 53, of Bowie, Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit honest services fraud and to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission; and to tax evasion. Ricker faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on each of those counts at his sentencing this Friday, October 5, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and IRS-CI for their work in the investigation and thanked the Prince George’s County Police Department for its assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys James A. Crowell IV, A. David Copperthite and Sujit Raman, who prosecuted these cases.