Prince George’s County Developer Patrick Ricker Sentenced in Extortion Scheme

Under-reported His Taxable Income by More Than $1.1 Million for Tax Years 2004 to 2007

November 15, 2012

Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Patrick Q. Ricker, age 53, of Bowie, Maryland, today to one year and a day in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to provide gifts and services to public officials in exchange for favorable official action, and for tax evasion. Judge Messitte also entered an order that Ricker pay restitution of $250,000.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. 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.

“Tax compliance should be equally shared among all Americans,” said Rick A. Raven, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington DC Field Office. “Conspiring to defraud the government in a decade long extortion scheme and under reporting taxable income is reckless. Today’s sentence is an important victory for America’s taxpayers who play by the rules and have no tolerance for those who shirk their tax responsibilities.”

According to Ricker’s plea agreement and court documents, Ricker is a real estate broker and president of Ricker Brothers, Inc. Ricker and other co-conspirators, including developers Daniel I. Colton and Karl Granzow, 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. Ricker and his co-conspirators also had an ownership interest in Day Homes, which was incorporated to construct single family homes in Maryland.

From about 1997 through at least September 11, 2008, Ricker and his co-conspirators regularly provided money, trip expenses, meals, drinks, hotel rooms, airline tickets, rounds of golf, sexual services, employment and monetary and in-kind campaign contributions to state and local officials, in exchange for obtaining approvals for the Greenbelt Station site plan, creating the Greenbelt Station Special Taxing District; and getting Greenbelt Station listed as the number five priority on the State Highway Administration list of project/construction priorities. In addition, state and local officials assisted in the acquisition of surplus property and land from the County for development by Day Homes, provided Ricker and his co-conspirators with non-public County information, voted in favor of County Council resolutions favorable to the conspirators’ development projects, and ensured that a specific developer would obtain a contract to purchase certain buildings from the county, among other things.

State and local officials concealed the items they received from Ricker and his co-conspirators by failing to report them on disclosure statements or by misrepresenting their nature and value. Ricker and his co-conspirators concealed campaign contributions that were above state and federal legal limits by recruiting “straw donors,” including family members and employees, to make state and federal campaign contributions, with funds provided by or reimbursed by Ricker and his co-conspirators. Ricker and his co-conspirators also concealed the volume of their campaign contributions by providing in-kind contributions, such as campaign signs, food, alcohol and the administrative services of their employees and family members.

Finally, in an attempt to evade federal income tax for tax years 2004 to 2007, Ricker under-reported his taxable income by more than $1.1 million.

Retired Prince George’s County Fire Department official Karl Granzow, age 47, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to his participation in the conspiracy and to tax evasion. Granzow was sentenced to 18 months in prison on October 3, 2012, and ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 and forfeit his financial interest in Greenbelt Metropark. 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.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and IRS-CI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys James A. Crowell IV, A. David Copperthite and Sujit Raman, who prosecuted the case.

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