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Retired fire official sentenced for extortion, tax evasion

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Published on: Friday, October 12, 2012

By Jim Davis

U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte sentenced a retired assistant fire chief from Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department Oct. 3 to serve 18 months in a federal penitentiary for committing extortion and income tax evasion.

Karl Granzow, 47, of Bowie, will also have to serve three years of supervised probation after he is release from prison, Messitte said.

Granzow pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to commit extortion and income tax evasion. Granzow admitted in his guilty plea to working with developers for more than 10 years to bribe public officials for favors related to the Greenbelt Metro Station development project.

Granzow and other co-conspirators — including developers Daniel I. Colton, 62, of Annapolis, and Patrick Q. Ricker, 53, of Bowie — had ownership interests in Greenbelt Metropark, which sought to design, develop and build a mixed-use project, called Greenbelt Station, near the Greenbelt Metro Station.

According to his guilty plea, from 1997 through Sept. 11, 2008, Granzow, Colton, Ricker and others provided money, trip expenses, meals, drinks, hotel rooms, airline tickets, rounds of golf, employment, mortgage payments, employment and monetary and in-kind campaign contributions to state and local government officials in exchange for approval letters for the Greenbelt Station Detailed Site Plan; providing the conspirators with non-public county information; obtaining necessary state and local approvals for the development of Greenbelt Metropark; voting in favor of legislation favorable to their development projects; creating the Greenbelt Station Special Taxing District; ensuring that Greenbelt Station was listed as priority number five under the State Highway Administration list of project/construction priorities; and, ensuring that a certain developer would obtain a contract to purchase certain buildings for the county.

During the course of the scheme, including illicit campaign contributions and property provided by Granzow and his co-conspirators, the value of things obtained by public officials and others acting with a public official attributable to Granzow is between $30,000 and $70,000.

Additionally, Granzow prepared or caused to be prepared a federal income tax return for the calendar year 2004 that failed to report $225,974 in taxable income, resulting in a tax loss of $74,191.

Colton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion and to making false statements to the Federal Election Commission. Colton faces a maximum penalty of five years on each of those counts. His sentencing has not been scheduled.

Ricker pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit honest services fraud, to making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and to tax evasion.

U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation for their work in the investigation. He als thanked the Prince George’s County Police Department for its assistance. Rosenstein also thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys James A. Crowell IV, A. David Copperthite and Sujit Raman, who prosecuted these cases.

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