U.S. attorney: Federal probe finished on '08 Brown campaign

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Local,DC,Crime,Naomi Jagoda

Federal prosecutors said Thursday that they don't plan to bring any more charges connected to former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown's 2008 campaign.

The announcement from U.S. Attorney Ron Machen came on the same day that Che Brown, the former council chairman's brother, pleaded guiltyin federal court to a bank fraud charge.

Prosecutors began investigating the brothers after a District audit found that Che Brown's company, Partners in Learning, had received more than$239,000 from Kwame Brown's 2008 campaign that was unreported and funneled through a third party.

In addition to Che Brown's guilty plea, the investigation also led to Kwame Brown resigning from office in June and pleading guilty to a misdemeanor campaign finance charge and to an unrelated federal bank fraud charge. Last month, the former councilman served one day in custody for the federal charge.

Although the federal criminal investigation into the campaign has been completed, the U.S. Attorney's Office said the D.C. Board of Elections can resume public proceedings on the civil complaint that was filed against the campaign last year.

"The closure of our criminal investigation should not be interpreted as a clean bill of health for the 2008 Kwame Brown campaign," Machen said. "Conduct that does not warrant criminal prosecution may nevertheless be illegal and subject to civil penalties."

A statement from the Board of Elections says the board "must have an opportunity to review the case record and determine how to proceed."

Terry Lynch, a longtime civic activist in the District, said he hopes the Board of Elections follows up on the investigation and that the D.C. Council passes comprehensive ethics reform next year.

"The system needs fixing. The system's broken," he said, noting that confidence in local public officials is at a low point because of the many recent scandals.

In pleading guilty, Che Brown admitted to falsely claiming he earned a monthly salary of $5,907 at a company called Bookkeeping Works in order to get a mortgage modification for his Southeast D.C. home.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 5. Federal sentencing guidelines suggest that he receive up to six months behind bars.

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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Naomi Jagoda

Staff reporter
The Washington Examiner