Potomac Lawyer Charged with a Conflict of Interest and Lying on His Financial Disclosure Forms
Greenbelt, Maryland - A federal information was filed yesterday charging attorney Jeffrey Ross Williams, age 51, of Potomac, Maryland, with criminal conflict of interest and making a false statement to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
The information was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Office of Inspector General.
According to the two count information, from September 2005 to March 2008, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) employed Williams full-time in the dual positions of Assistant General Counsel for Enforcement and Information and Assistant General Counsel for Regulatory Affairs, in the Office of General Counsel. Williams was required to report all sources of income and outside employment positions on an annual government disclosure form, in order for the agency to identify any conflicts of interest.
While Williams worked for the CPSC, Williams was the managing partner at the Williams Law Firm, PLLC which he founded in 2003. Williams touted his “high-visibility federal government experience” on his law firm’s website and stated that he offered “an insiders knowledge of ... Executive Branch decision making ....”
As part of his outside law practice, Williams helped a foreign corporation, “V Ltd.”, in its efforts to supply the U.S. Army with batteries for armored personnel carriers, including meeting with U.S. Army officials on two occasions to promote “V Ltd.” and its products. In May 2006, after one of his meetings with U.S. Army officials, Williams solicited from the “V Ltd.” CEO a monthly retainer of $8,000, for a minimum of six months, along with reimbursement of expenses, including registration and filing fees for federal disclosures under the Lobby Disclosure Act, Foreign Agent Registration Act, and Defense Procurement Act, and for costs of transportation, food, lodging, and the production of marketing and presentation documents.
On Williams’ financial disclosure reports for calendar years 2005 and 2006 Williams did not report the Williams Law Firm as a source of income, nor did he report his outside position with the firm, as was required. The fact that Williams maintained a law practice outside of the CPSC was important to ethics officials, because the practice involved federal government agencies and was therefore prohibited.
The information charges Williams with seeking compensation, not provided for the proper discharge of his official duty, for his services as an attorney in a matter in which the United States had a direct and substantial interest. The information further alleges that Williams lied to the CPSC on his financial disclosure form.
Williams faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, on each of the two counts. No court appearance has been scheduled.
An information is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by information is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the CPSC-OIG for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Michael R. Pauzé, who is prosecuting the case.