- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2012

Federal prosecutors think former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown should serve six days in jail and spend three years on probation for submitting false information on loan applications while he served as a city lawmaker, according to papers filed Thursday in federal court.

Brown, who resigned from the council June 6 and pleaded guilty to felony bank fraud the next day, should be able to serve the recommended jail time on weekends, a sentencing memo from U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.’s office says.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon is scheduled to sentence Brown on Nov. 13.

Brown’s attorney, Frederick Cooke, filed papers Thursday that call for a suspended sentence of six days in jail with two years of supervised release and 200 hours of community service. He said Brown would not be able to pay a fine.

Brown, who faces a maximum of six months for the offense, admitted last summer in U.S. District Court that he schemed to secure a hefty loan from 2005 to 2007 by overstating his income, going so far as to change a “3” to an “8” on a tax form so it looked as if he earned $50,000 more in 2006 than he actually did. He then walked a block to D.C. Superior Court to plead guilty to a misdemeanor campaign finance charged that stemmed from his 2008 campaign for re-election as an at-large member of the council, an offense that also is punishable by up to six months in jail.

Prosecutors said Thursday that Brown’s position as a council member made his crimes even more serious. At one point, he used his office fax machine to send one of the fraudulent loan documents, “a particularly brazen act,” the memo says.

“Although there is never an excuse for committing bank fraud, doing so to purchase a recreational vehicle is shameless,” the prosecutors’ memo says. “The defendant did not commit bank fraud to feed his family, pay a medical bill, or give money to the poor. He did this so he could own a 39-foot, 330-horsepower boat, a luxury few people can afford.”

The banking system handles a large volume of daily transactions, they say, and “relies heavily on bank customers and loan applicants to be honest in their dealings.”

In a personal letter to the judge, Brown says he immediately admitted to his wrongdoing when law enforcement confronted him with their evidence.

“It is difficult to find words to describe how badly I feel about bringing so much pain to so many people,” he said. “I never imagined that I would be in such a situation.”

Brown is one of two city lawmakers to step down from his post at the John A. Wilson Building this year. Former council member Harry Thomas Jr. resigned in January and pleaded guilty to stealing more than $350,000 in public funds intended for youth sports programs. He is serving a three-year term at a prison in Alabama.

Federal prosecutors are also probing Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s 2010 campaign, an investigation that heated up over the summer after a former aide admitted she managed straw donations and more than $650,000 in unreported campaign funds from a city contractor — whether Mr. Gray knew it or not.

Brown is scheduled to be sentenced in Superior Court on the same day of his sentencing before Judge Leon.

In the federal case, the defense’s memo says Brown has a long history of dedication to the District and to his family. He was elected to the council as an at-large member in 2004, re-elected in 2008 and rose to chairman after the 2010 elections.

“Mr. Brown fully understands that his conduct has added to the poor image of the District government at a time when that image is under substantial question,” Mr. Cooke says in his memo.

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