Feds: Gray aide offered 'substantial' help to prosecutors

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Photo - D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (Examiner file photo)
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Crime,Alan Blinder

Federal prosecutors on Monday told a judge that they do not oppose a sentence of probation for a consultant to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's campaign involved in a scandal that has overshadowed Gray's tenure for more than 18 months.

Under his plea agreement, Howard Brooks had faced a sentence of up to six months in prison for lying to federal agents.

"Brooks participated in criminal schemes that aimed to advance the candidacy of [Gray] for mayor," Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Chubin Epstein wrote in a court filing ahead of Brooks' October sentencing. "Eventually, Brooks took full responsibility for his crimes and provided substantial assistance to the government."

Along with probation, Epstein said the government wouldn't object to a sentence that included 200 hours of community service and a restriction limiting Brooks' participation in political campaigns.

Brooks' lawyers asked for a sentence of probation and community service.

"I take complete responsibility for my actions," Brooks wrote in a letter to the judge overseeing his case. "This is a fall from grace that I would not wish on my worst enemy. I have no one to blame but myself."

The scheme in which Brooks acknowledged playing a starring role is one of two that have stained Gray's campaign and prompted demands for the mayor's resignation.

Brooks acknowledged in May that he helped direct payments to Sulaimon Brown, a minor mayoral candidate, so Brown would remain in the race and criticize then-Mayor Adrian Fenty, Gray's archrival.

After Brown went public with his allegations and prompted an investigation, prosecutors said, Brooks "deliberately and repeatedly lied" in an FBI interview.

"He could have told the truth, even if doing so put him at risk for criminal prosecution, personal embarrassment or both," Epstein wrote. "Instead, Brooks chose to lie."

Court records indicate, though, that Brooks began cooperating with authorities soon after. He signed a plea agreement in October 2011, but prosecutors did not charge him until May.

The payments to Brown also ensnared Thomas Gore, the campaign's assistant treasurer. He pleaded guilty to, among other charges, shredding a notebook that contained records of the money order payments to Brown.

Prosecutors are also investigating the existence of a $653,800 shadow campaign that helped elect Gray. One person already has pleaded guilty to her role in that scheme, and more charges are expected.

Gray has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and has vowed to finish his term.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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