Howard Brooks Pleads Guilty
Gray campaign aide mystery man Howard Brooks is a mystery no more: Brooks appeared in federal court today to plead guilty to a single count of lying to the FBI.
But that's not all he did. Brooks admitted today in court that he was the bagman for the Gray campaign after it decided in the summer of 2010 that it was in their candidate's interest to pay an unemployed accountant with a criminal history named Sulaimon Brown to stay in the mayoral race and lob attacks at then-Mayor Adrian Fenty during campaign forums that were attended almost exclusively by voters who had already made up their minds.
Some highlights from what Brooks admitted to in court today:
- In June 2010, Brooks met with an unidentified person and Thomas Gore, Gray's campaign treasurer, who pleaded guilty to obstructing justice on Tuesday. At that meeting Brooks "was instructed to make payments" to Brown, though court records don't say who did the instructing. After the hearing, Brooks' attorney said it wasn't Brooks' idea to pay Brown. LL's already named the unidentified person as campaign chairwoman and Gray's closest friend Lorraine Green.
- Brooks gave Brown envelopes filled with both cash and money orders. Why these criminal geniuses felt the need to create a paper trail with money orders is a mystery not yet solved. We also don't know how much cash Brown got, but court records say that Brooks gave Brown 10 money orders worth a total of $2,810. Not all of that money was reported on Brown's campaign finance report.
- Brown gets his insurance, or at least did in the summer of 2010, from GEICO: He sent one $150 money order Brooks gave him directly to the company.
- Three days after getting the GEICO money and a $500 money order, Brown accused Fenty of not respecting his parents.
- Gore and Brooks collaborated on a straw donor scheme. Gore gave Brooks four $500 money orders, which Brooks signed in the name of one of his friends. That friend's name fraudulently shows up in Gray's campaign finance report as having given $2,000. Gray's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about what it plans on doing with that money. Gore also gave Brooks four other money orders that Brooks signed in his own name but never gave to the Gray campaign. Gray's campaign finance reports, however, fraudulently say he gave $2,000.
- Brooks lied to his son. Brooks used his son's girlfriend's name on one of the money orders that he gave to Brown. When Brooks' son reminded him of this uncomfortable fact after Brown first went public with the allegations that he'd been improperly paid, Brooks told his son that "he did not know how that money order had ended up in [Sulaimon Brown's] possession," court records say. In fact, Brooks hand delivered that money order to Brown.
- Brooks lied to the FBI, and LL presumes, his own lawyer. Brooks met voluntarily with the FBI on April 6, 2011, and told them that he'd never given Brown cash or money orders and said he didn't recognize his own handwriting on one of the money orders that was given to Brown. Brooks' lawyer, Glenn Ivey, said he went with Brooks to that meeting and did not know his client was lying.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery