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Gray consultant pleads guilty in campaign probe

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

A consultant to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s campaign pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to federal agents, making him the second legal casualty of a long-running probe.

At a hearing in U.S. District Court in the District, Howard Brooks, 64, admitted that he lied to the FBI when he told authorities that he had not transferred Gray campaign funds to Sulaimon Brown, a fringe mayoral candidate.

In fact, Brooks hand-delivered money orders in the names of others to Brown. 

Brooks, whom city records show the Gray campaign paid $44,000 for his consulting work, faced a maximum prison term of five years. Under the terms of his agreement with prosecutors, though, he likely will serve a maximum of six months in prison, if not less.

Further reductions to Brooks' sentence hinge on his efforts to assist federal authorities.

Court records indicate that Brooks has provided extensive cooperation so far, and his assistance likely helped to secure the probe’s first guilty plea by secretly recording a conversation.

Earlier this week, Thomas Gore, the campaign’s assistant treasurer, pleaded guilty to four charges, including obstruction of justice.

At his own plea hearing on Tuesday, Gore acknowledged that he had shredded a spiral notebook that contained records of the payments to the Brown campaign. In a filing that Gore said was accurate, prosecutors wrote that Gore had told “Person A” that he had destroyed the ledger.

“Person A” was Brooks, and Gore said in court that federal authorities knew of the conversation between the two men because of “a wire.”

Brooks has cooperated with authorities since at least September 2011, six months after Brown publicly claimed that the Gray campaign paid him and promised him a city job if he would remain in the mayoral contest to criticize Adrian Fenty, the incumbent mayor who was Gray’s chief rival.

Gray, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, has repeatedly declined to comment, as has Robert Bennett, his criminal defense attorney.

“There’s an ongoing, pending investigation, so there’s nothing really I can comment on,” Gray said after Brooks was charged on Wednesday.

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