Greenbelt, Maryland –U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis sentenced former Maryland State Delegate Michael Lynn Vaughn, age 60, of Bowie, Maryland, today to four years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for a bribery conspiracy in connection with a scheme in which he accepted bribes in exchange for influencing the performance of his official duties. A federal jury convicted Vaughn of conspiracy and four counts of bribery on March 1, 2018. At today’s sentencing hearing, the government also presented evidence, which Vaughn did not dispute, that Vaughn stole campaign funds from early 2005 through 2016, totaling over $100,000.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Acting Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Chief Henry P. Stawinski III of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
“We expect our elected officials to place the interests of the citizens above their own,” said United States Attorney Robert K. Hur. “When they violate the trust placed in them and break the law, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will bring them to justice.”
According to court documents and evidence presented at his two-week trial, Vaughn was a Maryland State Delegate from January 2003 until January 2017, representing District 24, which covered portions of Prince George’s County, Maryland, and was the Deputy Majority Whip and a member of the Economic Matters Committee.
According to the evidence presented at trial, 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 evidence showed that Vaughn took $19,000 in cash bribe payments from Paig, Lee, and others, in exchange for influencing and voting for the 2015 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 related 2016 Additional Sunday Permits Bill, both of which became Maryland law. Vaughn voted in favor of the bills, which benefitted Paig and Lee’s liquor stores, in the Prince George’s County Delegation meetings, in the Economic Matters Committee, and in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Also according to court documents and information presented at today’s sentencing hearing, from early 2005 through 2016, Vaughn diverted money donated to his campaign finance committee, Friends of Michael Vaughn (FOMV), for his personal use, totaling over $100,000. A candidate, such as Vaughn, is prohibited from personally making disbursements from a political committee established to promote his candidacy. According to the information presented at the sentencing hearing, the government’s sentencing memo, and other court documents, 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 credit card account, and making payments of his personal income tax to the Internal Revenue Service. In addition, during an interview on April 12, 2016, Vaughn admitted to stealing funds from his campaign account and spending them on a number of things, including his personal mortgage, his son’s school tuition, and credit card bills. As part of the wire fraud conduct, Vaughn 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. In order to conceal the scheme from FOMV and the FOMV campaign contributors, Vaughn caused the filing of fraudulent campaign finance reports with the Maryland State Board of Elections. 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 expenditures identified in the report did not include substantial cash withdrawals made by Vaughn, and the account actual balance on that date, according to bank statements, was only $1,654.36.
United States Attorney Robert Hur commended the FBI, IRS-CI, and Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas P. Windom, who prosecuted the case.