The Washington Post

Developer Pat Ricker in prison, but project is aired in Upper Marlboro courtroom

Prince George’s County developer Pat Ricker may be in federal prison in a county corruption case, but one of his proposed developments got a boost Friday from the Prince George’s planning board in an Upper Marlboro courtroom.

A group of Temple Hills residents is fighting a plan that would allow Ricker to build three houses on a lot where the zoning only allows two. To do this, he won permission from the planning board in 2011 to extend the neighborhood’s dead-end street into an adjoining community. On Friday, George R.H. Johnson, a board attorney, defended that decision.

Johnson told Prince George’s Circuit Court Judge C. Philip Nichols Jr. that the board had acted properly when it approved the creation of three lots on the property. The board had issued a variance to give Ricker permission to do so.

Johnson said that to deny Ricker the right to divvy up the property into three parcels would create two less-appealing lots.

“It would deprive [Ricker] of constructing amenities like sheds and swimming polls that are allowed on other properties,” Johnson said.

Pat Ricker (Larry Morris/The Washington Post)

But the residents’ attorney, former Prince George’s County Council member Tom Dernoga, said that the board had exceeded its authority and was not allowed to issue such variances. “There needs to be a specific grant of authority” in the law for the board to issue a variance, he told Nichols. And Dernoga said he could find none.

Cynthia Rollins, lead plaintiff in the case, said she was determined to keep her Middletown Valley community intact and not allow the dead-end street to be opened up for the sake of easier access to Ricker’s proposed three-house development.

Rollins, who has lived in the community for 34 years, said she thought that Ricker and the planning agency were ignoring the wishes of the community.

“When he bought that lot, he knew what the rules were,” she said after the hearing.

Ricker, who is serving a one-year sentence for fraud, tax evasion and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, was described by federal prosectors as a “linchpin” who helped federal authorities reel in then-County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) in a far-reaching bribery and corruption scheme. But he also was implicated in wrongdoing. Last fall, U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Ricker to 12 months and one day in prison, ordered the prominent developer to pay $250,000 in restitution and placed him on two years of supervised release once his sentence is completed.

Nichols said he would rule soon in the land-use dispute.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Play Videos
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
The rise and fall of baseball cards
How to keep your child safe in the water
Play Videos
'Did you fall from heaven?': D.C.'s pick-up lines
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
How to get organized for back to school
How to buy a car via e-mail
The signature drink of New Orleans

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.