Baltimore County

Former Baltimore County employee charged with embezzlement, theft, perjury in campaign finance case

A former Baltimore County employee investigated for misuse of funds when he led the county agriculture center is charged with stealing over $100,000 from a campaign to help reelect former Councilmember Cathy Bevins, amid a slew of other charges.

Maryland State Prosecutor Charlton T. Howard charged William “Chris” McCollum with 21 counts that included theft, perjury and embezzlement stemming from his time as treasurer for two campaign entities: Baltimore County Victory Slate and Friends of Cathy Bevins, according to documents filed Thursday in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

William “Chris" McCollum, center right, director of anchor initiatives for Baltimore County.

McCollum used his access to the Bevins campaign’s bank account to redirect more than $110,000 to his bank account between April 2015 and January 2020, Howard said in the charging documents. Howard accused McCollum of embezzling $31,000 from the victory slate between May 2015 and December 2018.

The court filing said McCollum used his access to both campaigns to cash donors’ checks into his own account, transfer funds from the campaign accounts to his, and deposit vendor checks from campaign accounts in his account.


McCollum used the money to pay his American Express card bills and charged the Bevins campaign for plane tickets to West Palm Beach, Florida, to Iceland, and for a romantic getaway with his partner to San Juan, Puerto Rico, the document said. He also charged the campaign for dinner at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Beaverton, Ohio, and made withdrawals at two ATMs in North Carolina.

Bevins did not know about or authorize any of those transactions, Howard wrote in the document.

“I was shocked and saddened to learn about the embezzlement from my campaign account by my longtime treasurer,” Bevins said in a statement. “This is a complete betrayal of trust placed in him by me and by my donors. I have been cooperating with the Office of State Prosecutor throughout their investigation. I am very grateful for their efforts to prosecute this theft and to recover the stolen campaign funds.”

Bevins served on the County Council from 2010 to 2022.

She and a handful of other Democrats, including State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger, House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and County Council Chair Julian Jones were on the slate during the period McCollum is accused of stealing its funds and remain active candidates, according to campaign finance records. Such slates allow candidates to pool resources and run on a shared political platform.

McCollum did not respond to a request for comment.

“We’ve been fully cooperative throughout the state prosecutor’s office investigation,” said his attorney, David Irwin of Baltimore. “We hope this will all work out.”

Howard said in a statement that “treasurers of campaign finance committees have an important role in ensuring funds raised to support a political candidate or candidates are used to benefit the purpose of the campaign. Our office strives to hold individuals in positions of public trust in the electoral process accountable if they violate that trust for personal gain.”


He declined to comment further.

The Morning Sun


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McCollum held a variety of county government positions, including overseeing the county agricultural center in Cockeysville between 2010 and 2019. The Baltimore County inspector general investigated the Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park for wastefully spending $1 million during his tenure there.

McCollum resigned as county deputy economic development director in 2021, but The Baltimore Sun revealed months later that he remained on the payroll to extend his service time and access increased retirement benefits.

“Chris did a lot of good things for the county, especially during COVID,” Jones said. “I am saddened by the charges, and reserve judgment until the outcome. Let the process run its course.”

County officials, such as Bevins, thanked McCollum and the Department of Economic and Workforce Development for winning federal funds in 2020 to help small businesses.

Erica Palmisano, a county spokesperson, called the charges “serious and deeply concerning.”


“We support every effort to ensure justice is served,” she said.

McCollum will be arraigned March 13, according to Irwin and court records.