Former Maryland delegate Will Campos pleads guilty to federal bribery charges
GREENBELT, Md. - Federal prosecutors announced Tuesday that former Maryland Delegate and Prince George's County Councilman William Alberto Campos-Escobar has pleaded guilty to federal charges for taking bribes. In a statement, prosecutors said Campos, 42, entered his plea on January 5, and it was unsealed today.
Campos is from Hyattsville and was elected to the Prince George's County Council in 2004 representing District 2. He served on the council until 2014, when he was elected as a delegate to the Maryland General Assembly. He resigned on September 10, 2015.
While Campos served as County Councilman, Prince George's County allowed each council member to award $100,000 in grant funds to non-profit service organizations of their choice.
His plea agreement says Campos "conspired to solicit and accept bribes in exchange for favorable official actions."
Campos will be required to forfeit and pay restitution of at least $340,000. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy, and a maximum of 10 years in prison for bribery. His sentencing is scheduled for April 10, 2017.
Rosenstein confirmed Tuesday that the FBI took their bribery investigation public after David Son, the director of the Prince George's County Liquor Board, began tipping off targets of the probe. The FBI had Son under wiretap surveillance for as long as two and a half years. He is now under 24-hour home detention after appearing in federal court in Greenbelt on Monday.
Rosenstein said during the course of that investigation, they learned Campos was using the $100,000 in grant funds in order to enrich himself.
"Prince George's County allows each county council member to have at full discretion over how up to a $100,000 in funding is distributed to charitable organizations," said Rosenstein. "It was at the discretion of the county council members as to where that money would be spent and Mr. Campos' favorite charity was himself."
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said the investigation into corruption in Prince George's County is far from over as there are multiple elected officials and others currently under investigation.
"There are other elected officials who are within the scope of our ongoing investigation," said Rosenstein.
After the plea was announced, Campos issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
"Dear friends, it is with great sadness and embarrassment that I deliver this message. I have been under Federal investigation for bribery and conspiracy and I have pleaded guilty to these charges. The investigation has been going on for years now. When I was first approached by the government, I immediately acknowledged my wrongdoing and have been trying to make amends ever since.
I truly apologize to all of you, my friends and supporters, and to my family. I admitted my transgression from day one. I have not been answering any inquiries in the last few days due to ongoing investigation. As embarrassing and devastating as this may be, I own up to my mistakes. While I have never been shy about speaking to the media, on the advice of my counsel I am constrained not to comment further. I beg for your understanding.
As strange as this may sound, I am relieved that this is finally coming to an end. This process has been torturous, and I have learned so much about life and myself. I thank God for the lesson that he has taught me and will continue to teach me. It has definitely made me into a better person and it has humbled me to a level that I needed to reach for my own personal growth. I definitely strayed and I thank God for setting me straight.
Please pray for everyone who will be directly and indirectly affected by all of this. Having gone through it myself, I know what lies ahead for many others and I will ask God to guide them through this as he has guided and blessed me."
The statement goes on to say, "Once again, my sincerest apologies to all of you; I admit to my failings. I only ask for your prayers during this very difficult time. I believe ultimate justice is with divine grace."
Prosecutors announced charges last week against two Prince George's County liquor board officials and two business owners in a bribery scheme. At that time, they said two Maryland lawmakers, including one who is now out of office, were expected to be charged.
The plea agreement outlines the following timeline in the investigation:
Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker said in a statement on Campos' guilty plea:
"I am very upset and deeply disappointed to learn that Former Councilman and State Delegate Will Campos was involved in this situation. When a public official raises his or her hand and pledges to uphold the Prince George's County Charter or the Maryland Constitution, they are committing to live by a very high standard of trust and integrity.
"Since 2010, my administration has worked to restore confidence in the Government through the implementation of ethics reform, enhanced oversight, and whistleblower protection through our Office of Ethics and Accountability. I refuse to let today's developments set us back and tarnish the reputation that this County has worked so hard to rebuild over the last six years. This is why we will continue to work with the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI, and the Prince George's County Police Department (PGPD) on this matter as they investigate this case."
Prince George's County Council chair Derrick Davis issued a statement regarding the recent arrests:
"The Prince George's County Council is deeply concerned about the troubling news that continues to unfold following arrests made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the raid last week of the offices of the Prince George's County Board of License Commissioners.
"Any allegation of illegal behavior by public servants is unacceptable and disappointing, and the County Council remains committed to working to ensure that every aspect of County Government operates ethically and with a zero tolerance for corruption of any kind.
"The citizens of Prince George's County deserve government they can trust and officials that operate with the utmost integrity."