Greenbelt, MD – A federal grand jury has indicted former Maryland State Delegate Michael Lynn Vaughn, 59, of Bowie, for a bribery conspiracy in connection with a scheme in which he allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for influencing the performance of his official duties, as well as for stealing campaign funds. The indictment was returned on March 6 and unsealed late on March 7. Vaughn’s initial appearance is scheduled to be before U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Connelly in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.
The indictment 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; Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Holloman of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Washington, DC Field Office; and Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
According to the eight-count indictment, Vaughn, a Democrat, was a Maryland State Delegate from January 2003 until January 2017, representing District 24, which covered portions of Prince George’s County and was the Deputy Majority Whip and a member of the Economic Matters Committee.
The indictment alleges that from January 2015 through April 2016, Vaughn conspired with former Prince George’s County Liquor Board member and later, Chief Liquor Inspector, David Dae Sok Son, liquor store owners Young Jung Paig, Shin Ja Lee, and others in order to enrich himself personally, in exchange for Vaughn performing and agreeing to perform favorable official action.
Specifically, the indictment alleges that Vaughn took over $10,000 in cash bribe payments from Paig, Lee, and others, in exchange for influencing and voting for the Sunday Sales Bill, which established up to 100 Sunday liquor sales permits in Prince George’s County for holders of Class A licenses and Class B licenses with an off-sale privilege; and the Additional Sunday Permits Bill, which raised the limit of Sunday liquor sales permits in Prince George’s County from 100 to 105, and authorized the additional five permits “only to holders of a Class B beer, wine, and liquor license with an off-sale privilege that acquired the license on or after January 1, 2016.” Vaughn voted in favor of the bills, which benefitted Paig and Lee’s liquor stores, in the Economic Matters Committee, and in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Further, the indictment alleges that from 2012 through 2016, Vaughn diverted money donated to his campaign finance committee, Friends of Michael Vaughn (FOMV), for his personal use. A candidate, such as Vaughn, is prohibited from personally making disbursements from a political committee established to promote his candidacy. According to the indictment, Vaughn withdrew campaign funds from the FOMV account to use for personal expenses, including electronically transferring money from the FOMV campaign account directly to Vaughn’s personal bank account, making payments to his personal American Express credit card account, and making payments of his personal income tax to the Internal Revenue Service. In addition, Vaughn allegedly received campaign contributions, deposited them into the FOMV account, and then converted them to his personal use without identifying the contributions on campaign finance reports made to the Maryland State Board of Elections. For example, from June 10, 2015, through November 10, 2015, at least 25 checks totaling approximately $11,175, were deposited into the FOMV account but not reported on the FOMV campaign finance report. As with the other amounts deposited into the FOMV account, the funds from these checks were then withdrawn by Vaughn and converted for his personal use. The indictment alleges that Vaughn caused the filing of fraudulent campaign finance reports with the Maryland State Board of Elections in order to conceal the scheme from FOMV and the FOMV campaign contributors. For example, as of January 14, 2015, the campaign finance report filed with the Maryland State Board of Elections showed a balance in the FOMV account of $64,462.44. The indictment alleges that the expenditures identified in the report did not include substantial cash withdrawals made by Vaughn, and that the account actual balance on that date, according to bank statements, was only $1,654.36.
If convicted, Vaughn faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy; a maximum of 10 years in prison for each of four counts of bribery; and a maximum of 20 years in prison for each of three counts of wire fraud.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, IRS-CI, and Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas P. Windom, Menaka S. Kalaskar, and Arun G. Rao, who are prosecuting the case.