Former Prince George’s County Council Member Mel Franklin has been charged with multiple counts of felony theft scheme, embezzlement and perjury, the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor announced Thursday.

The charges — which come days after Franklin resigned from the Prince George’s County Council — stem from his alleged use of campaign funds for personal expenses, according to charging documents.

Franklin faces 16 counts of perjury for allegedly falsifying campaign finance reports. He also faces two counts of theft scheme and two counts of embezzlement, split evenly between allegedly giving campaign funds to himself and to third parties for his benefit.

The state prosecutor’s office alleges that Franklin transferred more than $124,000 from his campaign to his personal bank account from 2020 to at least October 2023. From 2021 to December 2023, the state also alleges that Franklin embezzled more than $8,000 from the campaign account to third parties to pay for his personal expenses.

Franklin allegedly used the funds to pay for hotels, a loan, a friend’s cosmetic procedures, an oil change on his car, an online subscription service and other personal expenses, according to the charging documents.

If convicted, Franklin could face up to 200 years in prison.

Franklin resigned from his at-large seat on the council on June 14, a seat he had held since 2018. He had served the council since 2010, acting first as a District 9 council member for two terms. His resignation was announced through a Prince George’s County news release, which did not provide a reason for the resignation.

Before his time on the council, Franklin was a federal attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, according to his campaign website.

“Our Office strives to hold individuals in positions of public trust accountable if they violate that trust and exploit the Maryland electoral process for personal financial gain,” state prosecutor Charlton Howard said in the Thursday news release announcing the charges.

A special election will be scheduled “promptly” to fulfill the vacancy Franklin leaves on the county council, according to the release that announced his resignation.

“Elected officials have a duty to safeguard the public trust. When that trust is broken, officials must be held accountable,” District 3 council member Eric Olson said in a statement to The Diamondback. “The charges against former Council Member Franklin are serious, and I trust our judicial system will arrive at a fair and just resolution.”

“No public servant in Prince George’s County or anywhere should be above the law and we will see what the process of justice system take place and the charges are alleged,” District 2 council member Wanika Fisher said in a statement to The Diamondback.
The Prince George’s County Council declined a Thursday request for comment. No other county council members immediately responded to The Diamondback’s request for comment.

Senior staff writer Natalie Weger contributed to this story.

This story has been updated