Former County Official Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Embezzlement
County will likely receive $1 million in restitution, prosecutor says
Byung Il “Peter” Bang, a Montgomery County government official of 20 years who pleaded guilty last year to embezzling nearly $7 million in county funds, was sentenced Thursday in Montgomery County Circuit Court to 15 years in state prison.
Bang, 59, had pleaded guilty Nov. 16 in circuit court to state charges of a theft scheme of more than $10,000 and misconduct in office.
Associate Judge Cheryl McCally McCally imposed a sentence of 20 years, with 10 years suspended on the first count, and 20 years with 15 years suspended on the misconduct count.
Bang’s state sentence will run concurrently with a federal sentence of four years in prison. As part of that sentence, he was ordered to pay $6.7 million in restitution to Montgomery County and $2.3 million to the IRS.
Bang’s guilty pleas came more than a year after authorities began investigating him for the embezzlement, which took place between 2010 and 2016 when he was second-in-command at the economic development department.
Bang transferred funds into four South Korean bank accounts that contained his home address, under the guise that the money would be used to helped build an incubator space for businesses in South Korea’s Chungcheongbuk-Do province, according to prosecutors.
Bang used the money to feed a gambling addiction, prosecutors said. The IRS tracked his use of the money through a series of cashier’s checks used at casinos in three states, and federal authorities began investigating him in April 2017.
In explaining her sentence, McCally told Bang that by stealing public dollars, he had betrayed the trust of everyone in the county and that the more than 1 million residents who live there are all victims.
The judge noted that the stolen funds impacted a variety of county services, including county courts.
“This court’s ability to assist all of these people has been impacted, Mr. Bang, by your scheme,” she said.
McCally also drew on comments from Deputy County Attorney John Markovs, who said the amount of money Bang stole could have gone toward county services such as public safety or school construction.
“I’m sure [police] Chief [Tom] Manger would have loved to have 60 more police officers on the street,” Markovs said.
Bang’s gambling habit, argued his attorney Gerald Kelly, largely stemmed from mental health problems.
Kelly argued that Bang should receive a lighter sentence because he had been seeking treatment for his condition.
Bang later addressed the court, expressing remorse for his actions and saying that he stopped gambling in September 2016.
“I have betrayed a high level of trust in Montgomery County [residents],” he said.
But State’s Attorney John McCarthy countered by saying that Bang didn’t spend all of the money he stole on gambling, pointing to the fact that Bang owned two houses and was frequently observed to be well-dressed.
“Some of his money went to gambling, but some of it went to how he lived,” McCarthy said.
At a news conference following the sentencing, McCarthy said the county will likely only receive $1 million of the amount Bang owes in restitution. The rest, he said, is in the hands of the casino owners.
“You want an honest answer? No. They will never see $5 million from this guy. He’s gonna go to jail for a substantial period of time. When he gets out he’s under an order for restitution for the rest of the money,” the county’s top prosecutor said. “When you’re talking about the kind of money you’re talking about here with the limits he’s gonna have with what he’s gonna be able to earn with this kind of background. He’s in his late 50s… We’ll get some restitution back. But I think it’ll be pennies on the dollar in reality during the course of the time he’s on probation.”
One of Bang’s homes was sold, McCarthy said, and the county will receive money from the sale. The other home was owned jointly by Bang and his wife of 21 years, Youn Jung, and will remain in her possession, he said.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.email@example.com