2019 | Courts

Former County Official Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

Bang ordered to repay $6.7 million embezzled from Montgomery County

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Montgomery County state's attorney's office

Byung Il “Peter” Bang, the former Montgomery County government employee of more than 20 years who embezzled nearly $7 million in county funds, was sentenced Friday to four years in federal prison.

Bang must also pay $6.7 million to Montgomery County in restitution along with $2.3 million to the IRS, according to federal prosecutors.

Bang, a 59-year-old Germantown resident, pleaded guilty to federal wire and tax fraud charges on Nov. 16 in federal court.

He also pleaded guilty to state charges of a theft scheme of more than $10,000 and misconduct in office and is scheduled for a separate sentencing hearing March 7 in Montgomery County Circuit Court, a spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office said.

U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur said in a news release that Bang’s actions had “undermined everyone’s faith in government.”

“Mr. Bang lied to his colleagues, government officials and the IRS over an extended period of time. The $6.7 million that he embezzled deprived Montgomery County taxpayers of funds that could have been used for schools, libraries, and other expenditures, and harmed the County’s reputation,” Hur said.

Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy wrote that he was pleased with the sentencing.

“Through strong Federal and County cooperation and investigation we were able to bring Mr. Bang to justice.  It is important that people who betray the public trust be held accountable.  Today’s sentence is the next step in our effort to close this chapter of greed and corruption in the career and life of Byung Il “Peter” Bang,” McCarthy wrote.

Bang’s attorney, Gerald W. Kelly, of Columbia, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Bang served in a variety of positions in the county between 1997 and 2017. From 2010 to 2016 he was the chief operating officer of the county’s now-defunct department of economic development.

While in that role, he diverted county funds into four South Korean bank accounts that contained his home address under the guise of an agreement with South Korea’s Chungcheongbuk-Do province. County officials had agreed to build an incubator space for South Korean businesses.

Bang used the money he embezzled to feed a gambling habit, according to court documents. Federal authorities began investigating Bang in April 2017 after the IRS discovered a series of cashier’s checks from Bang that were used at casinos in Nevada, Delaware and West Virginia. He was fired from county government on June 12, 2017.

Since the revelations of Bang’s embezzlement, county officials have pledged to increase transparency and oversight in county government.

A county audit released in December found that a “lack of segregation of duties” within the economic development department helped create a climate in which higher-ups, such as Bang, could write checks with little to no oversight.

Following Bang’s plea, the county said it had created a new “compliance unit” within the county’s finance department that reviews all financial transactions and runs forensic tests to detect irregular activity.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com