PG Ex-liquor board commissioner asked for ‘wedding gifts’ when soliciting bribes, court files state

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Federal agents searched the offices of the Prince George’s County liquor board Jan. 5 (Arelis R. Hernández/The Washington Post)

A former Prince George’s County liquor board commissioner arrested earlier this year on federal bribery charges pleaded guilty in the case Friday afternoon, the seventh of eight people netted in the wide-ranging scandal to admit wrongdoing.

Anuj Sud, 39, admitted to violating the Travel Act, going between Maryland and Washington, to collect cash kickbacks — that prosecutors said he referred to as “wedding gifts” — in exchange for official favors.

Sud’s plea leaves only former state delegate Michael Vaughn set to go to trial in the federal investigation authorities dubbed “Operation Dry Saloon.”

Earlier this year the former Prince George’s County liquor board director, liquor store owners, lobbyists and lawmakers were arrested in the probe. Federal authorities allege liquor store owners paid former state delegates Vaughn and Will Campos, both Democrats representing Prince George’s, thousands of dollars in exchange for favorable votes on legislation that would help their businesses.

Sud was not accused in the larger scheme involving the expansion of liquor sales in exchange for cash, but was arrested in a related bribery investigation.

Sud did not speak at the hearing other than to answer “yes” or “no” questions from the judge. His attorney, William Brennan, declined to comment after the hearing in federal court in Greenbelt, but in a letter to the court said his client “is profoundly remorseful for his conduct.”

Sud, an attorney, was appointed to the Prince George’s liquor board in 2015 and almost immediately began shopping around to sell his votes, according to prosecutors.

“How can I start getting paid?” Sud was accused of asking someone who represented businesses with matters before the liquor board on Sept. 25, 2015.

“Tell your boys you got somebody on the board that can f—— make s— happen,” the government said Sud told the man who turned out to be a confidential source for the FBI. “I can influence the votes now.”

About two months later, Sud agreed to vote favorably in two hearings involving the confidential source.

On Dec. 2, 2015, Sud voted to reduce the penalty for a business found in violation of a liquor board summons. About two weeks later, Sud voted in favor of granting a liquor license to another one of the informant’s clients.

Sud was paid $1,000 for each vote, court documents state.

A year later, Sud asked the informant for a “wedding gift,” which the government said was code for a bribe in exchange for help on liquor board matters. When the informant and Sud talked about helping one of the informant’s clients, Sud suggested the informant bring payment for the bribe to an auto repair shop Sud owned as a way to hide the transactions, the government asserts in court filings.

“Actually, you know what I was thinking?” the government states Sud told the informant Nov. 9, 2016, at Sud’s gas station and repair shop in Silver Spring. “Any time you want to drop off a gift, bring your car in. Do the oil change and then when you pay, I can just give you a receipt . . . That way it’s a legitimate transaction.”

Later that month, court files state, the informant gave Sud $1,000 after Sud had voted favorably on a decision affecting one of the informant’s clients and the client was “real happy” the informant said before handing over cash.

“Speaking of good,” the informant told Sud, according to the recounting in court filings. “Look. I got a little, what’s it called, wedding gift for the, uh . . . deal.”

Sud faces up to five years in prison at sentencing scheduled for April 5.

via Washington post

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Juwan Blocker to run for PGCPS School Board in District 3 in the 2018 election!

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Juwan Blocker (seen above) is scheduled to run for PGCPS School Board in District 3 in the 2018 election!

Former student Board Mr. Juwan Blocker who helped bring accountability measures in Prince George’s county Public schools, will be running for the PGCPS School Board in District 3 in the 2018 election! The incumbent is Ms. Dinora A. Hernandez, Esq. an attorney who served as Mr. Baker’s Latino liaison before assuming the current role.

Mr. Juwan Blocker announced his decision to run for the school board in a facebook post seen by Reform Sasscer Movement earlier this afternoon from Collington Maryland. He stated that, ” It is time for major reform in our county and I will continue working to be apart of the solution. However, I can’t do it without your help. He requested members of the public to consider donating to our campaign here: https://www.crowdpac.com/campaigns/379954/juwan-blocker

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Former student Board Mr. Juwan Blocker center with his colleagues in a past photo.

Commitment to Public Education
A school board member takes on one of the most important citizen responsibilities: overseeing the education of the community’s youth. In these challenging times for public education, school boards are seeking men and women who find excitement and satisfaction in confronting tough challenges and working collegially to rise above them and help students in their communities succeed.

The board of education is a uniquely American institution. It oversees and manages the community’s public school system. It ensures the public schools are flexible and responsive to the needs of the community.  School boards are comprised of volunteers within the community who dedicate their time to better public education. Except for those appointed by the County Council and the county Executive after enactment of Maryland HB1107, generally board members are elected.

The size of a school board depends on the type of  school district but generally ranges between three and nine members. With limited exceptions, school board members serve three- four- or five-year terms. Terms are staggered so all board positions are never open at the same time. Voters have the power to change the size of the board as set forth within the law.

Responsibilities of a Board Member
With schoolchildren always their ultimate focus, school board members act officially at the board table, working with other board members to serve students and accomplish the following:

  • Create a shared vision for the future of education
  • Set the direction of the school district to achieve the highest student performance
  • Provide rigorous accountability for student  achievement results
  • Develop a budget and present it to the community, aligning district resources to improve achievement
  • Support a healthy school district culture for work and learning
  • Create strategic partnerships with the community stakeholders
  • Build the district’s progress through continuous improvement
  • Adopt and maintain current policies
  • Hire and evaluate the superintendent
  • Ratify collective bargaining agreements
  • Maintain strong ethical standards

Characteristics of a Board Member
Below are attributes that all effective board members should possess.

  • Effective Communicator: Can describe what he or she wants and describe what others want; a good listener
  • Consensus Builder: Capable of working toward decisions that all can support and willing to compromise to achieve goals
  • Community Participant: Enjoys meeting a variety of people, can identify the community’s key communicators and reaches out to the community
  • Decision Maker: Is comfortable making decisions and can support group decision-making
  • Information Processor: Can organize priorities and schedules to handle large amounts of verbal and written information
  • Leader: Willing to take risks, be supportive of board colleagues, district staff and community
  • Team Player: Helps promote the board’s vision and goals.

Running for Your Local School Board
Once you have made the commitment to run for your local school board, there are requirements, deadlines, and processes that must be adhered to.

Eligibility Requirements
Generally, school board candidates must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old, qualified voters in the school district and able to read and write. They must be residents of their districts continuously for one year (as little as 30 days or as long as three years in some city school districts) before the election.

We encourage many more citizens to run for various offices including delegate, council and governorship in 2018. This is our commitment to you.

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Inspire: Bowie State University student activist confronts big issues

3d654eef-fbd7-4f34-a0b1-7af052e2a23e-large16x9_BowieStateJuwan Blocker, a Bowie State University freshman, has been wearing a suit to class since he was a sophomore in high school. Grounded by a sense of civic duty, he’s dressing for the job he wants, and confronting issues from education to voting rights in his community.

Mr. Blocker is a man who brings a lot of hope for our future in the county! Thank you for your willingness to take a stand early and often! As you prepare to run for an elected school Board post in 2018, Reform Sasscer Movement will stand behind you in every step of the way to help bring reforms in the county.

Hear more from Blocker in the clip below, part of Michelle Marsh‘s Inspire series.

Clip here.

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Angry parents call for PGCPS CEO to step down

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Prince George’s County NAACP President Bob Ross addresses reporters following a meeting with Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford about grade-change allegations in the county. (Ovetta Wiggins/The Washington Post)

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — Parents in Prince George’s County are calling for Prince George’s County Public School CEO, Dr. Kevin Maxwell, to step down after an independent audit revealed thousands of students had their grades changed to boost graduation rates.
This comes after Governor Larry Hogan held an hour-long meeting with the Prince George’s County NAACP and parents about the audit’s findings.

“The CEO must go! He does not care about our children. The CEO must go!.”, shouted a parent during a news conference following Governor Hogan’s meeting, calling for accountability in the grading scandal that has rocked PGCPS.

“That investigation turned up wide-spread corruption and wrongdoing.”, said Governor Hogan.

An independent audit commissioned by the Maryland State Board of Education found that thousands of graduates from 2016 and 2017 had failing grades for at least one quarter, which were later changed after the cutoff dates.
It further stated that over 150 students graduated in 2017, despite having over 50 absences for the school year.

Yolanda Rogers is a parent with five children who have attended PGCPS schools, of whom three have graduated.

She said the grading scandal has had a huge impact on her kids.

“I have two children that’s graduated with A’s in English, B’s in Math and when they tested in college, they tested for remedial English and remedial Math. That’s problematic for me.”, said Rogers.

Many are now calling for Prince George’s County Executive, Rushern Baker, to get rid of the current chairman and superintendent.

In a statement, John White, spokesperson for PGCPS pointed out that the school system was not invited to today’s meeting, but says Dr. Kevin Maxwell and his leadership team have taken the state audit findings and recommendations very seriously.

PGCPS has until the end of the month to respond to the audit and submit a plan of action.

Officials from Prince George’s County Public Schools have said that an action plan is in the works to improve grading and graduation certification.

County Executive, Rushern Baker could not be reached for comment.

via DCW50 >>> Read more >>> Fox5 DC maryland-map

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Md. Gov. Larry Hogan meets with NAACP leaders about P.G. County Schools grade fixing

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Prince George’s County NAACP President Bob Ross addresses reporters following a meeting with Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford about grade-change allegations in the county. (Ovetta Wiggins/The Washington Post)

The Prince George’s County NAACP told Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Tuesday that it wants to initiate an audit of the county school curriculum and overturn a state law that gave County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) the power to select the schools superintendent.

Bob Ross, president of the county branch of the NAACP, said the organization is also considering filing a civil rights lawsuit against the school district, which is the second-largest in the state.

Ross met for nearly an hour with Hogan, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) and members of the governor’s executive staff to discuss the state’s probe of alleged grade-tampering and fraudulent graduation rates in Prince George’s.

Ross said the NAACP asked Hogan to meet with them to discuss “what [the governor] can do at his level” to overturn the state law and launch a curriculum audit.

In the end, they were told: not much.

Hogan told the members of the NAACP and several parents who joined their meeting that he supports them and their efforts. He suggested they contact their state representatives and local officials and urge them to take seriously the findings of a recent state audit, which found that grades were changed days before graduation for nearly 5,500 students during the past two years.

County and school officials are scheduled to release a corrective plan next week.

The governor has repeatedly criticized Baker, one of eight Democrats seeking the nomination to run against him next November, over what he says is a lackluster response to the audit.

On Tuesday, after several parents called for the removal of Kevin Maxwell, Baker’s handpicked schools chief, Hogan said, “They have lost confidence in leadership.”

A spokesman for Baker said Maxwell and his staff “have been working diligently to correct” problems identified in the audit.

“We take our children and their futures very seriously, which is why we are working to correct any deficiencies,” spokesman Scott Peterson said.

Hogan declined to say whether he thought Maxwell should be ousted, calling it a decision for Baker.

Ross said his members, who sought the meeting with the governor, planned to meet him in Annapolis, but instead were told Hogan would come to Prince George’s, Baker’s home area.

There are reports according to Mr. Delvin Champagne that, Policy makers and community leaders were totally supportive of expanding School Choice Vouchers to maximize options and opportunity in Prince George’s County.

Via Washington Post,  >>>ABC7’s Brad Bell has more on this story in the video >>> here.

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Good meeting today at NAACP headquarters in Prince Georges County Maryland, with President Bob Ross, Governor Hogan and fellow Howard Bison alum Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford to discuss PGCPS issues. Policy makers and community leaders were totally supportive of expanding School Choice Vouchers to maximize options and opportunity in PGC.

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Governor Larry Hogan with NAACP County Branch Education chairperson Dr. Juanita Miller.

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NAACP headquarters in Prince Georges County Maryland, with President Bob Ross, Governor Hogan and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford to discuss PGCPS issues.

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Prince George’s County NAACP Branch and Maryland Governor Hogan To Meet.

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Branch President Bob Ross.

Upper Marlboro, MD, December 11, 2017 – Prince George’s County Branch NAACP will meet with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on Tuesday, December 12, 2017. Two weeks earlier, the Branch reached out to Governor Hogan asking to meet regarding the injustice to the students of Prince George’s County Public Schools. Writing that it is deeply concerned about the Prince George’s County Performance Audit of graduation grade changes, Branch President Ross wrote the Governor that, “the Branch and county now needs to see that our Governor cares about our children and our future. The audit was just the first step.”

Ross wrote that the Branch believes education is the Civil Rights issue of our time. Every single graduate who was issued a diploma without meeting the basic requirements and/or not demonstrating adequate attendance has had his or her Civil Rights violated. The level of duplicity exhibited within the school system leads the Branch to believe that a deeper investigation needs to occur and that more state involvement is necessary. The students impacted will suffer greatly for the rest of their lives because of the neglect and selfishness of our school system’s leadership. Prince George’s County cannot be left alone to handle this matter.

The meeting will focus on making sure the audit’s recommendations are implemented accurately and expediently. It will also focus on determining why any educators in the school system would consider that there would even be the necessity to pass children that are failing. Whether students are passed or failed, too many students are not prepared to effectively contribute to the economy. NAACP Education members, parents and community leaders will meet with the Governor at the local Branch office.

The Prince George’s NAACP recognizes that this meeting with the Governor is unprecedented. However, the Prince George’s County public school system handing out diplomas to students who haven’t made the grade and the systematic failure of our students in our public schools and beyond has necessitated the Governor’s involvement at the local level.”

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Media Contact:
April Martin, Communications Chairperson
Prince George’s County Branch NAACP

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BOE Member Sonya Williams In major water as Arun Puracken joins the 2018 race – as people’s choice – District 9

1EBB8BAA-93DA-4159-A685-4B2D3B0B31B4.jpegWe finally have a Teacher Running for Board of Education. This is the way to go Mr. Arun Puracken. Education matters and it is the key to life. It should matter now more than ever.

Mr. Arun Puracken school board campaign launch was more lit than some delegate, Senate, and Council campaign launches. There is lots of love and support from the community and the board members themselves starting with Mr. Edward Burroughs III, Mr. David Murray and Ms. Raaheela Ahmed our “rebellious, fearless leaders”.

we encourage more teachers and others to step up to run for various political offices and lead the way forward in Maryland. This is one way to shake up the state and the county Leadership in order to make a difference in the future.

Nominate a Leader to be Featured in Education Matters

Do you know a leader in your community supporting our schools and making a difference in the lives of children both in and out of school? We are seeking nominations for individuals to be highlighted in our Leadership Spotlight segment. Nominees could be principals, superintendents, teachers, teacher assistants, guidance counselors, parents, students, business leaders, community volunteers, afterschool providers, and more.

Here are Some pictures from Mr. Arun Puracken Friday December 8th, 2017 event.

 

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