Guilty Plea to Federal Bribery Conspiracy by Man who Served as Prince George’s County Councilman and Maryland State Delegate
Undercover Investigation “Did Not Involve an Isolated Instance of Crime”
Greenbelt, Maryland – Former Maryland Delegate and Prince George’s County Councilman William Alberto Campos-Escobar, age 42, of Hyattsville, Maryland, has pleaded guilty to federal charges for taking bribes related to the performance of his official duties. The guilty plea was entered under seal on January 5, 2017, and unsealed today.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kareem Carter of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
“This undercover investigation did not involve an isolated instance of misconduct,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “It exposed a longstanding practice of giving away taxpayer money in exchange for bribes. This type of corruption can flourish when government officials exercise discretion without oversight.”
“A public servant must uphold public trust. You cannot use public service for your own personal gain,” said Special Agent Gordon B. Johnson of the FBI’s Baltimore Division. “Today’s plea announcement should send a clear signal that the FBI will vigorously investigate any public official who attempts to use their position to enrich themselves.”
“Rooting out public corruption remains one of the IRS-CI’s highest priorities. This investigation underscores our commitment to work in a collaborative effort to promote honest and ethical government at all levels and to prosecute those who allegedly violate the public’s trust. If you commit a crime, status as a political leader will not protect you from federal prosecution," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kareem Carter.
Campos was elected as a Prince George’s County Councilman representing County District 2 in 2004 and served until he was elected as a Delegate to the Maryland General Assembly in 2014. Campos served as a state delegate until his resignation on September 10, 2015. While Campos served as County Councilman, Prince George’s County allowed each County Council member to award $100,000 in grant funds to non-profit service organizations of their choice.
According to Campos’ plea agreement, Campos conspired to solicit and accept bribes in exchange for favorable official actions. For example, on December 9, 2012, Campos and another suspect met with a cooperating witness to discuss moving the cooperator’s business to the County. They met again on December 21, 2012, and the cooperator gave Campos an envelope with $3,000 in cash. Campos told the cooperator to find a non-profit organization (NPO), and Campos would arrange a grant that the NPO could share with the cooperator. On February 6, 2013, the cooperator received a check for $5,000, made out to the NPO, with a note that the grant represented funds from District 2.
On July 12, 2013, Campos and the other suspect met with the cooperator to discuss other NPOs that Campos could use to funnel County grant funds to the source. Campos said that he was going on vacation and “could use an advance for my trip.” On July 22, 2013, the cooperator called Campos and proposed meeting to give Campos information about the NPOs the cooperator had lined up to receive County grant funds. The cooperator said that he also wanted to “take care” of Campos before his trip.
At a meeting on July 25, 2013, the cooperator gave Campos $3,000 in cash. On November 15, 2013, an undercover FBI employee (UCE) picked up a check for $5,000 in County grant funds made out to the UCE’s NPO. The UCE posed as a businessman who owned a property management company and wanted to expand his business into the County and the surrounding area.
Campos subsequently asked the UCE to make a $2,000 campaign contribution to the another candidate’s campaign. On January 7, 2014, at Campos’ request, the UCE attended a political fundraiser for the candidate. During the fundraiser, Campos asked the UCE to increase the contribution to $4,000. The UCE agreed to make a $2,000 contribution at the fundraiser and pay an additional $2,000 if Campos would support the UCE’s company obtaining a property management contract with a housing authority outside Maryland. Campos agreed.
On January 28, 2014, the UCE sent Campos a draft letter of support. Campos forwarded the letter to a County employee with instructions to put the letter on official County letterhead and send it back to the UCE, who received the letter by email that same day. On February 4, 2014, Campos and UCE met in Alexandria, Virginia, and the UCE gave Campos $2,000 in cash. Later, Campos and UCE had the following conversation:
Campos: I told you, you were a bad influence. [laughs]
UCE: Oh, man. You can always say no. You say no to me right now. You say no, you
Campos: I’m a mortal man – that’s the problem.
At a meeting on April 4, 2014, the other suspect told the cooperator that Campos needed $10,000 to pay a campaign-related expense, and that Campos wanted the cooperator to pay in exchange for Campos arranging another grant to an NPO selected by the cooperator.
On April 9, 2014, the other suspect told the cooperator that Campos wanted to “hook the source up” with the developer of a new business in the County that would retain the cooperator’s services. The other suspect stated that the business owed Campos because Campos had obtained a tax benefit for the business. The cooperator gave the other suspect $3,000 in cash for Campos, which the other suspect gave to Campos later that day. At a meeting the next day, Campos agreed to provide money to the cooperator through an NPO associated with the UCE. Campos also said he was meeting with the developer and would tell the developer that Campos wanted the developer to work with the cooperator.
On April 17, 2014, the UCE gave Campos another $2,000 in cash.
Campos also admitted that he received bribe payments from numerous other individuals. For example, from 2011 through 2014, Campos received between $21,000 and $24,000 from two County business owners in exchange for giving approximately $325,000 in County grant money to entities controlled by those business owners
As part of his plea agreement, Campos will be required to forfeit and pay restitution of at least $340,000.
Campos faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy, a maximum of 10 years in prison for bribery. U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis has scheduled sentencing for April 10, 2017.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, IRS-CI, and Prince Georges County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas P. Windom and James A. Crowell IV, who are prosecuting the case.