A man accused of facilitating bribes to elected officials in exchange for favorable action on legislation that would expand liquor sales in Prince George’s County was allowed to go home on Monday.
The arrangement will make it easier for David Dae Sok Son, 40, of Bowie to work with lawyers on sifting through 30 months worth of wiretaps and hundreds of recordings collected in the investigation that dates from at least 2014, said Assistant U.S. Attorney James A. Crowell IV.
Son, 40, of Bowie was removed from government lockdown in a detention facility to instead be monitored electronically at home under the supervision of his wife and the government.
He was arrested Thursday with three others on charges of bribery and conspiracy in connection with his position as director of the liquor board in Prince George’s County. The federal government alleges that he acted as a middleman between local business owners who paid state lawmakers to approve legislation that would increase permits for Sunday liquor sales in the county.
Two elected officials also are expected to be charged in the investigation, court files show.
Son was the only one of the four charged Thursday who was ordered to remain in government custody after prosecutors accused him of tipping off others to the federal government’s investigation while he was working as a cooperator. But federal prosecutors and his attorneys reached an agreement for his home detention over the weekend that would allow the government to “keep tabs” on Son and give attorneys access to him given the “voluminous nature” of the investigation, Crowell said in federal court in Greenbelt Monday.
A judge banned Son from using electronic devices or communicating with anyone about the case other than his wife and his attorney.
During the detention hearing, Son’s wife sat in the courtroom and held up the couple’s newborn for him to see. Son, wearing maroon prison scrubs, turned around and smiled.
Federal prosecutors allege that Son was part of a scheme from at least 2012 to 2015 that involved a string of bribes between $1,000 and $5,000. Son facilitated money exchanges, including one in the men’s restroom at a restaurant, and received bribes himself for helping to influence liquor board matters, the government alleges.
Authorities accuse him of facilitating three bribes to an elected official between 2012 and 2014 — while Son was a liquor board commissioner — and arranging bribes from a liquor store owner to that official and a state lawmaker in 2015 and 2016 for their work on legislation expanding alcohol sales.
Son also is accused of helping relay a bribe to an official to help a company with a zoning matter.
Three other people were arrested on Thursday: former liquor board commissioner Anuj Sud, 39, accused of accepting cash bribes for favorable votes; Young Jung Paig, 62, owner of Central Avenue Restaurant & Liquor Store; and Shin Ja Lee, 55, owner of Palmer Liquor Store. Federal prosecutors accuse Lee and Paig of providing the money to the still unnamed elected officials who allegedly accepted bribes for their support of a bill that would allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays in Prince George’s.
Sud resigned from the liquor board on Friday.
A federal affidavit does not name the elected officials in the case but describes one as a former elected official who has arranged a plea deal for a more lenient sentence in the corruption investigation in exchange for becoming an informant. The charging affidavit describes the other official as a state delegate on the House Economic Matters Committee who voted in favor of the Sunday sales bill in 2015.
The Board of License Commissioners is a state entity that regulates the sale of alcohol in the county at more than 600 liquor stores, restaurants and other businesses. The board’s five commissioners are appointed by the governor to three-year terms.
Son was appointed to the board in 2005, a position he held until late 2014. During the 2015 Maryland legislative session, Son was the liaison for the county’s Senate delegation before returning later in 2015 to the liquor board as its director, the charging documents state.
Son walked out of the federal courthouse in Greenbelt shortly before 3 p.m. Monday, carrying his newborn in a car seat and surrounded by his family and lawyers. He declined to comment before entering a minivan with his family and driving off.