Maryland Woman Pleads Guilty to Paying Bribes in Return for Non-Public Information About Traffic Crash Victims
WASHINGTON – A Maryland businesswoman pleaded guilty today to paying cash bribes to an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in return for information contained in non-public police paperwork identifying individuals involved in traffic accidents.
Raquel DePaula, 43, of Beltsville, Md., pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to one count of bribery of a public official. The Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan did not schedule a sentencing date. Under federal sentencing guidelines, she faces a likely range of 18 to 24 months in prison, as well as financial penalties. As part of her plea agreement, she must pay $15,001 in a forfeiture money judgment.
The announcement was made by Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips, Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division, and Robert J. Contee III, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department.
DePaula and the police officer were indicted in June 2021. The officer has pleaded not guilty to charges and is awaiting further court proceedings.
DePaula owns RD Legal Solutions, LLC, a corporation that, among other things, acts as a “runner” providing contact information for traffic accident victims to attorneys in exchange for referral fees. According to a statement of offense submitted as part of the plea, from approximately April 2019 through August 2019, she paid cash to the officer to get confidential information from MPD Traffic Accident Reports. An MPD General Order limited the distribution of these reports to individuals involved in traffic accidents and their representatives.
In the statement of offense, DePaula admitted paying the officer between approximately $600 and $1,300 per week, though the amount varied, in exchange for the victim contact information. Over the course of the scheme, she admitted to paying over $15,000 to the officer and receiving contact information for 2,667 victims.
In announcing the plea, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillips, Special Agent in Charge Jacobs, and Chief Contee commended the work of those who are investigating the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and MPD’s Internal Affairs Division. They also expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Rothstein, who is prosecuting the matter.