Crime, Politics

Former Baltimore County official pleads guilty to perjury, theft charges

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UPDATE: William Christopher McCollum has been sentenced.

Original story below…

TOWSON, MD—Maryland State Prosecutor Charlton T. Howard, III, this week announced that William “Christopher” McCollum pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft scheme and one count of perjury.

According to the statement of facts read in the courtroom, McCollum, who served as the Treasurer for the campaign finance committees “Friends of Cathy Bevins” and the “Baltimore County Victory Slate,” was systematically stealing funds raised by the committees, without the knowledge of the candidates the committees sought to support.

McCollum was formally charged earlier this year.

The “Friends of Cathy Bevins” is a campaign committee that raised money to support the election of former Baltimore County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins. McCollum maintained a personal American Express credit card that was not associated with the Friends of Cathy Bevins campaign entity, but, as Treasurer, he used funds from the Friends of Cathy Bevins committee to pay his personal credit card bill, totaling $64,189.89. Also, McCollum, as Treasurer, wrote checks from the committee to various business accounts purported to be related to the campaign. McCollum nonetheless directly deposited those checks into his personal checking account. The deposits totaled $13,425.

Additionally, McCollum directly transferred funds out of the Friends of Cathy Bevins campaign account to himself. In his capacity as Treasurer, he electronically transferred $5,000 of funds from the campaign finance account to his personal account. One of the duties of a campaign finance entity’s Treasurer is to manage checks made payable to the campaign finance entity. McCollum, on several occasions, deposited checks made payable to Friends of Cathy Bevins directly into his personal account. The deposits totaled $28,400.

McCollum also used his position as Treasurer for the Baltimore County Victory Slate for personal purposes by transferring funds from the slate account to the Friends of Cathy Bevins account, and then subsequently to his personal account. Friends of Cathy Bevins was one of the campaign finance entities associated with the Baltimore County Victory Slate, meaning that unlimited funds from the slate could be transferred to Friends of Cathy Bevins.

As he did with the Friends of Cathy Bevins account, McCollum also used funds from the Baltimore County Victory Slate to pay his personal credit card bill, wrote checks to purposed vendors and deposited those checks into his personal account, and deposited campaign contribution checks intended for the Baltimore County Victory Slate into his personal account.

The above transactions were not reported on any of the required campaign finance reports for either campaign committee, including the 2016 Pre-General Report. Such transactions and expenditures are material to the requirements of the Report. The Report was signed by McCollum under the penalties of perjury on January 20, 2021, and submitted to the Maryland State Board of Elections.

“It is essential to the integrity of our elections that those who abuse positions of trust on political campaigns are held accountable,” said State Prosecutor Howard. “I’m proud of our office’s hard work in uncovering this extensive fraud and bringing the individual responsible to justice.”

The Honorable Robert E. Cahill, Jr. accepted McCollum’s guilty plea in Baltimore County Circuit Court on Thursday, May 25, 2023. Sentencing has been set for July 31, 2023, at 1:30 p.m.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

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