Guilty Plea of Prince George’s County Developer Daniel Colton Unsealed Today
Previously Pleaded Guilty Under Seal to Conspiracy to Commit Extortion and to Cause False Statements to the Federal Election Commission
Greenbelt, Maryland - The guilty plea of Prince George’s developer Daniel Colton, age 61, a resident of Annapolis, Maryland and Raleigh, North Carolina, was unsealed today. Colton pleaded guilty under seal on September 13, 2010, to conspiracy to commit extortion and to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission.
The unsealing of the guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Sparkman of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
According to his guilty plea, Colton was a prominent developer in Prince George’s County. Colton and other co-conspirators, including developer Patrick Ricker, had an ownership interest in Greenbelt Metropark, which sought to design, develop and build a mixed-use project near the Greenbelt Metro Station, called Greenbelt Station. Colton, Ricker and their co-conspirators also had an interest in Day Homes, which was incorporated to construct single family homes in Maryland, and was involved in several development projects in the County.
According to Colton’s guilty plea, from 1997 through at least September 11, 2008, Colton, Ricker and other business persons offered things of value, including money, trip expenses, meals, drinks, hotel rooms, airline tickets, rounds of golf, employment, mortgage payments, and monetary and in-kind campaign contributions to state and local government officials.
In exchange for the bribes, state and local officials performed and agreed to perform favorable official actions for Colton, Ricker and other developers, business owners and their companies. The official acts included obtaining approval letters for the Greenbelt Station Detailed Site Plan; assisting in the acquisition of surplus property and land from the County for development by Day Homes; providing the conspirators with non-public County information; obtaining necessary state and local approvals and permits for Greenbelt Station and other developments and businesses in the County; voting in favor of legislation favorable to their development projects; and, ensuring that a certain developer would obtain a contract to purchase certain buildings for the County.
According to Colton’s plea agreement, state and local officials concealed items they received from Colton and his co-conspirators by failing to report them or by misrepresenting their nature and value. Further, Colton 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, Colton 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 Colton and his co-conspirators. Colton 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.
According to his plea agreement, including illicit campaign contributions and property provided by Colton and his co-conspirators, the value of things obtained by public officials and others acting with a public official attributable to Colton is between $400,000 and $1 million in connection with the scheme.
Colton faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy to commit extortion, and false statements to the Federal Election Commission. Co-conspirator Patrick Q. Ricker, age 52, of Bowie, Maryland, pleaded guilty on December 30, 2009 to conspiring to commit honest services fraud and to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission; and to tax evasion. His plea was also entered under seal and was unsealed on May 17, 2011. Ricker faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on each of those counts. No sentencing dates have been scheduled for Daniel Colton and Patrick Ricker.
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 are prosecuting these cases.