- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2013

A sentencing scheduled for Tuesday of a longtime campaign aide of D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray who pleaded guilty in connection with a wide-ranging federal campaign finance probe has been continued until February.

Vernon E. Hawkins, a volunteer adviser to Mr. Gray’s mayoral bid and a consultant and outreach coordinator with some of the mayor’s past campaigns, will be sentenced on Feb. 14 and is said to be assisting federal investigators with the probe.

Mr. Hawkins has cooperated fully with the government and has abided by all the conditions of his release,” states the motion for continuance filed by Hawkins‘ lawyer, William E. Lawler III.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly signed the order Thursday.

Hawkins has admitted giving another person money to leave the District in order to evade questions from law enforcement officials and was charged with lying to investigators about his role in the scheme.

Prosecutors said Hawkins in December 2011 gave money to an unnamed “Person One” to persuade him/her “to leave town for an extended period of time” so as to be unavailable to speak with federal agents. The papers say Person One was the owner of a D.C. catering business who worked as transportation coordinator with a get-out-the-vote effort funded by a D.C. businessman.

A source with knowledge of the investigation, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly, identified Person One as Lamont Mitchell, owner of D.C.-based Imani Catering. The businessman was not named in the court documents but is widely believed to be Jeffrey E. Thompson.

The court documents said Hawkins obtained the money from Thompson associate Eugenia C. Harris, who pleaded guilty in July 2012 to charges related to the campaign finance investigation, admitting that at least $650,000 in unreported funds — also believed to have come from Mr. Thompson — were used in Mr. Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign. Two other Gray campaign operatives also pleaded guilty in connection with the effort.

Prosecutors said Hawkins told FBI agents he was unaware of anyone connected to the campaign being asked to leave town to evade questioning and that he had not requested anyone leave or assisted anyone in leaving.

The charge carries a maximum five-year sentence.

Neither Mr. Gray nor Mr. Thompson has been charged with any wrongdoing.