Spotlight back on D.C. corruption cases

|
Photo - Former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown (Examiner file photo)
Former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown (Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Alan Blinder

Two key figures in the spate of D.C. corruption investigations will return to court this week, in a scheduling coincidence that will bring the long-running probes back to public attention.

"Any time you have people in a courtroom environment, of course it's going to attract attention," Mayor Vincent Gray, whose 2010 campaign has been the subject of a federal probe, said Monday.

Former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown is due in U.S. District Court on Tuesday to answer to a "violation" that federal prosecutors have declined to describe.

And more to come
Even after two major court appearances this week for people involved in D.C. corruption probes, there is more legal drama to come.
Oct. 24: Status hearing for Jeanne Clarke Harris, a figure in Vincent Gray's 2010 shadow campaign
Nov. 13: Kwame Brown sentencing
Dec. 12: Status hearing for Thomas Gore, assistant treasurer of the Gray campaign

Under the terms of his release from custody, Brown has to abide by several standard rules for defendants awaiting sentencing, including routine check-ins with court officials and travel restrictions.

If Brown violated any of those, Judge Richard Leon could hold him in contempt of court, revoke his release or impose new requirements while Brown remained free.

Frederick Cooke, Brown's lawyer, declined to comment ahead of the hearing.

Brown, who pleaded guilty in June to a felony bank fraud charge and a misdemeanor count of breaking D.C. campaign finance laws, will be sentenced in November.

Leon had originally scheduled sentencing for September, but prosecutors persuaded the judge to approve a postponement so Brown could continue to cooperate with authorities.

As a part of his plea agreement, Brown pledged to assist prosecutors in ongoing investigations.

Brown's plea deal calls for a sentence of up to six months in prison on the bank fraud charge. Leon could opt for a harsher sentence of up to 30 years behind bars, but such a ruling is unlikely because of federal sentencing guidelines.

Prosecutors have not recommended a sentence for the campaign finance charge, though it carries up to six months in prison.

Documents related to Brown's case:

The probe of Gray's campaign will take center stage on Wednesday when Gray campaign consultant Howard Brooks appears before Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly for sentencing on a single charge of lying to federal investigators.

Brooks pleaded guilty in May to a prominent role in a scheme to direct payments to Sulaimon Brown, a minor mayoral candidate, so Brown would remain in the race and criticize then-Mayor Adrian Fenty, Gray's electoral opponent.

After Brown leveled his allegations and spurred the investigation, prosecutors said Brooks "deliberately and repeatedly lied" to the FBI.

Brooks, who authorities said ultimately provided "substantial assistance," has asked to be sentenced to probation and community service. Prosecutors said in a court filing last month they wouldn't oppose the request, though they also sought to limit Brooks' participation in future political campaigns.

Brooks' attorney, Glenn Ivey, declined to comment.

Documents related to Brooks' case: 

Along with the investigation of the Sulaimon Brown matter, authorities are also looking into a $653,800 "shadow campaign" that prosecutors have said helped elect Gray, though Ivey has said Brooks did not participate in that plot.SClBGray denied the week's court appearances would distract him.

"My job is to be the mayor of the city." Gray said Monday. "We're going to continue moving along."

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment