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Feds charge Kwame Brown's brother with bank fraud

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

The brother of former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown was charged Wednesday with a single count of bank fraud, the same felony that forced his once-powerful sibling from office last summer.

Che Brown, who bills himself as "America's leading sales expert" as the president of Partners in Learning, allegedly submitted documents in 2010 to mortgage lender GMAC that exaggerated his annual income by $35,000.

The charge was filed in a criminal information, a court document that generally indicates a plea agreement has been reached.

Brown's attorney acknowledged that his client planned to plead guilty, but he said the charge was not tied to Brown's political activities on his brother's behalf.

"Che Brown was charged with bank fraud -- not campaign finance fraud or theft or anything remotely related to his role in his brother's political campaigns," A. Scott Bolden said in a statement.

Bolden said that Brown would plead guilty to making "personal mistakes" linked to his desire to change the terms of his mortgage when "the value of his home was extremely low."

Although Che Brown never sought citywide office himself, he played a large role in fashioning his brother's political career, one that abruptly ended in June when prosecutors charged Kwame Brown with bank fraud.

It was the quest for that prolific political career that prompted the federal investigation that led to the legal undoing of both men after a District audit found that Partners in Learning had received more than $239,000 from Kwame Brown's campaign, all of it unreported and funneled through a third company.

The probe also found that Che Brown was a signatory on a $60,000 "side account" for Kwame Brown's campaign.

Bolden said prosecutors should avoid charging Brown with campaign crimes because "none of these alleged funds were ever stolen or misappropriated by Che Brown, and all of these funds have been accounted for."

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. declined to comment.

Che Brown has a history of financial troubles. Court records show that with only $24 remaining in his checking account, he filed for bankruptcy in March 2011, citing liabilities of more than $546,000.

Brown listed GMAC in the bankruptcy filing as a creditor on his Southeast Washington home, which at the time was valued at $271,000.

He has also a checkered criminal history after pleading guilty in 1995 to bank fraud.

The charge carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, but punishments vary.

A federal judge last month sentenced Kwame Brown to a day in jail and six months of house arrest, but Che Brown could face stiffer penalties because of his criminal record.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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