Judge: Kwame Brown Needs More Time To Cooperate
When former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown took a plea deal earlier this summer to charges of felony bank fraud and misdemeanor campaign finance fraud, part of the agreement was that he would cooperate in "any criminal investigation or prosecution" the feds were conducting.
Today a federal judge let the public know that Brown was indeed cooperating. According to a docket entry, Judge Richard Leon granted a request to put off Brown's sentencing from Sept. 20 to Nov. 13 "in order to allow the defendant to complete his cooperation." Leon also denied a request, either from the U.S. Attorney's Office or Brown, to keep that decision filed under seal.
The big, juicy question: for what case (or cases) does Brown need more time in which to "complete his cooperation." The U.S. Attorney's Office won't tell LL, and Brown's lawyer, Fred Cooke Jr., wasn't immediately available (not that he would give specifics anyway). But given how many federal investigations there currently are into city politics, there are plenty of options in which the former second-highest elected official could be a useful source.
It could be as simple as Brown's own case. The court records filed in his misdemeanor case indicate that Che Brown, Brown's brother, had access to a campaign "side account" and used that money to make cash payments above the $50 legal limit to campaign workers. Che Brown's not been charged with any crime.
It could be something related to general campaign work. At a news conference after his guilty plea, Kwame Brown tried to play the victim by pointing out that illegal cash payments over $50 to campaign workers have occurred for years in plenty of campaigns, but Brown's was the only one the feds bother to prosecute. "I am guilty of knowing that poll workers and others received more than $50 in cash payments for doing campaign work, which is and has been done in this city for years," Brown said.
It could be related to the ongoing investigation of Mayor Vince Gray's 2010 campaign. Like several other politicians, Brown received donations from Jeff Thompson, the alleged financier of an off-the-book shadow campaign the feds say helped Gray win the mayoral election, as well as donations from Thompson's associates. LL reported last week that that investigation has broadened, with the FBI asking one former campaign worker for Councilmember Vincent Orange about his campaign's ties to alleged shadow campaign operatives.
Or Brown's cooperation could be related to the other federal investigations we know about, like the one into the D.C. lottery contract or into the city's commercial real estate office.
Or maybe, just maybe, Brown could be cooperating with a federal investigation that the public doesn't yet know about—a potential new chapter in the story of the District's corruption. The possibilities are endless.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery