Loose Lips

Michael Brown’s Plea Deal Points to Another Investigation

Michael Brown accepts his final bribe on March 14.

Michael Brown wanted "a piece of the piece," and he wanted it badly. Text messages and transcripts introduced in federal court today reveal the former at-large councilmember repeatedly asking to receive portions of what became a $55,000 bribe, in exchange for helping Maryland businessmen obtain fraudulent Certified Business Enterprise status. "It's not cheap to get people on top of the pile," he warned the businessmen in a December phone conversation.

Of course, those businessmen were actually two undercover FBI agents, and Brown was on tape. With Brown pleading guilty to bribery charges today in federal court, the District is facing its third sitting or former elected official pleading guilty in a year and a half for actions they took while in office—and according to U.S. Attorney Ron Machen, the motivations have been the same for each one.

"Michael Brown, like Harry Thomas and Kwame Brown before him, was motivated to commit this crime by greed and a sense of self-entitlement," Machen said at a press conference following Brown's plea. Machen was flanked on one side by visual proof of Brown's corruption—video stills of him accepting mugs filled with cash, and in one picture, stacks of $100 bills held together with rubber bands.

Brown's defense team and prosecutors asked for a sentence of up to 37 months on the charge. He'll be sentenced on Oct. 3, and U.S. District Court Judge Robert Wilkins warned him today to expect to be incarcerated immediately after the hearing. That could be the end of it—Machen says no one else will be charged in the bribery sting. But Brown's sentencing date holds the possibility of more charges for public officials, because prosecutors asked for sentencing nearly four months from now to ensure that Brown will cooperate with at least one other criminal investigation.

Brown's plea suggests that his own case intersects with the big one looming over D.C. politics —Machen's investigation into the "shadow campaign" backing Mayor Vince Gray's 2010 campaign for mayor and its alleged financier, Jeff Thompson.

In his statement of offense, Brown admits to taking money for his unsuccessful 2007 run for the Ward 4 Council seat from a D.C. businessman described in documents as "Co-Conspirator 1." The unnamed man didn't want to be tied to the money because he was also backing at least one other candidate, so he instead passed $20,000 to Brown via longtime Thompson associate Jeanne Clarke Harris. Harris, who pleaded guilty in July 2012 to her role in the shadow campaign, gave Brown the money in two wire transfers. In turn, he listed the campaign contribution as a personal contribution.

Machen declined to comment today on how much information Harris or Brown are providing to law enforcement (LL's predecessor reported on Friday that Brown was discussing Thompson). He was similarly tight-lipped about the Gray investigation, saying only that it is "moving very very quickly" when compared to similar corruption investigations in other parts of the country.

Machen seems to have an eye on speeding the Gray inquiry up, though. When questioned on why Brown was allowed to run in two separate at-large races before being forced to drop out last April, Machen conceded that he prefers to have investigations done before elections. "We try to be mindful of the political dynamics, but we need to make sure we build a strong case first," Machen said.

Photo courtesy the U.S. Attorney's Office

  • I Am Not A Liberal Democrat

    I am not shocked by the investigation of former D.C. At-Large Councilmember Michael Brown. Kwame Brown, Harry Thomas Jr, and Michael Brown are all enbarrassments to the District of Columbia. As a D.C. resident, taxpayer, and voter, I am so disgusted with the current legislative body in the Wilson Building. At this time, I don't see anyone worth voting for in the mayoral election next year.

    Ward 4
    Crestwood

  • I Am Not A Liberal Democrat

    Correction:

    I am not shocked by the investigation of former D.C. At-Large Councilmember Michael Brown, former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown, and former Ward 5 D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.

  • Blevins

    Nice job Mr. Machen. We can only hope that Brown (a) has information on the shadow campaign, and (b) gets into flip mode immediately so this long-running investigation can be resolved once and for all.

  • Pingback: A ‘piece of the piece’

  • NE John

    When is Harry coming back. I miss his leadership.

  • Dave B

    Part A) of this is the bribe Brown took to get someone "on top of the pile"

    Part B) should be how does Brown then get people "on top of the pile". Does he then pay some of his bribe forward? Does the corruption spread? Does he just work hard to actually get the guy's application processed?

  • noodlez

    YEAH FULLY LOADED WENT TO JAIL BUT HE WENT ON SOME O.J. SIMPSON TYPE SHIT WHICH IS NOT FOR THE CRIMES HE ACTUALLY COMMITTED. EMBELLISHING ON A FORM THAT THOUSANDS OF FOLKS WHO ARE ACQUIRING LOANS DO ON A DAILY IS PURE BULLSHIT! THEY SHOULD HAVE HIT ‘EM UP ON SOME UNPAID PARKING TICKETS WHILE THEY WERE AT IT.

    ALSO HARRY THOMAS WOULD STILL BE THE WARD 5 COUNCIL MEMBER IF NOT FOR PLUG NICKLE, FAGGIE FENTY AND MS. DAY.

    SO LETS NOT GET TOO CAUGHT UP IN MR MACHEN’S WEB! HE IS ACTUALLY BATTING .333. FULLY LOADED AND HTJ DON’T COUNT. NEITHER DOES THE LOW LEVEL DUMMIES HARRIS, GORE ET AL. THOSE “DESPICABLE ME” MINIONS WERE LOW HANGING FRUIT!

    AS FOR BASKETBALL BROWN: HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE TO THINK THAT AS A BLACK COUNCIL MEMBER YOU ARE NOT BEING LOOKED AT? HE DESERVES EVERY BIT OF THE 3YRS IF NOT MORE FOR THE EMBARRASSMENT TO HIS SUPPORTERS, THE WASTING OF GRAND OPPORTUNITIES, THE DISPLAY OF IGNORANCE AND THE BAMMAFICATION OF WHICH HE DISPLAYED PRETENDING TO RUN WHEN HE KNEW HIS ASS WAS GOING DOWN!

    WELL ONE WE THING WE DO KNOW AND THAT IS BASKETBALL BROWN WILL BE LISTED ON THE DAILY COUNT STARTING OCT 3, 2013 AND THERE WILL BE STATS THAT WE CAN FIND ON HIM. FUCKING CLOWN!

    YO WASHCITYPAPER CAN WE HAVE A SUMMER MONTHLY CONTEST READERS CAN VOTE ON? WHO IN DC POLITICS, DC ENTERTAINMENT AND/OR DC PERSONALITY ACTED IN WAY THAT THEY SHOULD BE GIVEN THE HONOR OF BEING CLASSIFIED AS A PURE BAMMA.

    I WOULD LIKE TO NOMINATE MICHEAL “BASKETBALL” BROWN AS THE BAMMA OF THE MONTH!

    CITY OF ONE LESS-EFFECTIVE 10-3-13.

  • Reeelz

    I am told that some mayoral appointees such as the Fire Chief will be implicated in another kickback scandal very soon.

  • Sandra Renee Hicks

    Hi -

    Ref: LL September 12, 2012 article

    In that subject article, Lawyer J. Wyndal Gordon said that he smelled a rat, among other things that he expressed about Michael Brown. Gordon was right.

    My comment under that subject LL piece:

    "The lawyer isn't selling wolf tickets...reserve your seats..."

    ###

    My comment on July 3, 2012, in LL relative to Michael Brown, "Dig deeper..."

    ###

    Ref: LL March 22, 2013, article on Michael Brown

    My March 25, 2013, comment shown under that article:

    "Michael Brown is a bum...

    "He is NOT going back into the Wilson Building, except maybe as a visitor."

    ###

    And more than a year ago, I visited Michael Brown's office and told one of his staff that GOD knows...

    I shared with the staff person that he (the staff person) needed a plan B... I'm sure that that former staff person remembers my visit and my words to him.

  • R. Scott

    @noodlez KBrown signed a plea agreement, which means he committed a more henious crime but struck a deal..word on the street is that he used campaign funds to pay the medical bills of the chick his wife caught him sleeping with, HTJ stole 300,000, tim day was given that info becausse no one on the council wanted to spill the beans if they were wrong about the acusation, don't be a fool man....

  • R. Scott

    Vincent Orange, told DC that Fenty, KBrown, HTJ and MBrown, were all clowns, but no one would listen, so you deserve what you get

  • Will Sommer

    @Sandra

    I talked to Gordon at yesterday's hearing, I'll have more on what he had to say later.

  • Tom

    You stupid people in DC get what you vote for! They're ALL VILE AND DISGUSTING from the Mayor right on down to that ridiculous Eleanor Holmes Norton! Keep voting for the "D" you stupid lemmings.

  • SEis4ME

    @Tom, yeah whatever dude. Go back to your "R" beginnings dine w/the rest of the Klan.

  • name

    R Scott:

    Noodlez is just upset because he's running out of council cock to suck. MB can't get it up anymore.

  • name

    @Tom.

    No, we get it. We live it. If it wasn't for the stacked deck created by Congress (allowing partisan elections fronted by primaries in a city-state is absurd) and the DC Democratic State committee that doesn't allow democracy within it's own elections, but is also keeping 10k "former" residents on the election roles so that their votes can continue to be filled every election, things might be better by now.

    This is the ugly process of rooting out corruption. The funny thing is, once the pendulum shifts, schools will be really good and the crime will shift to Baltimore.

  • Sebastian Townview

    The picture accompanying this article is making me physically ill. I don't think I will ever understand the sense of greed and entitlement that gives rise to this kind of crime. Sad, sad, sad ...

  • xman havoc

    MAB looks so gleefully dumb and blissfully ignorant about what's going on around him in this classic picture (better than MB with his crack pipe&ho): http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/mike-debonis/wp/2013/06/11/a-piece-of-the-piece/

    VCG must be smelling up his nice suits judging from the way his inner circle staff stay as far away from him as possible at every opportunity. He's got a poker face; too bad he didn't hire staff who are so transparent.

  • Jim Ed

    Ok, so reading the low hanging fruit here, Machen's play is:

    Michael Brown----> Jeffery Thompson ----> Vincent Gray

    right? So when Gray announces publicly that he's not running for re-election, we all know the axe is on the downswing.

  • Buy A Vowel

    Only a C _ _ N would sell his soul, soil his family name, be such a horrible role model for children in DC and trade in political clout for <$1M.

  • Asuka

    @ Jim,

    You're spot on. Gray's next, unless he takes a deal to not run. Gee, I wonder why he hasn't announced his campaign yet...

  • noodlez

    @SCOTTY-SO ACCORDING TO YOUR INSIDE INFO MACHEN WENT IN HARD ON FULLY LOADED BUT GOT SOFT ON THE UPSTROKE AND LET HIM OFF WITH A HANDJOB??? REALLY?

    IF I AM A FEDERAL PROSECUTOR AND I GOT THE 2ND MOST POWERFUL CITY LEADER AT THE TIME ON THE HOOK AIN'T NO CATCH AND RELEASE! HIS ASS WOULD BE STUFFED AND MOUNTED! THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL HE WOULD NOT BE STILL IN FEDERAL PRISON LOOKING AT THE BACK END OF HIS SENTENCE FOR A RELEASE DATE. YEAH OKAY PLEA DEAL.

    NO ARGUMENT ON THE THOMAS SCENARIO OTHER THAN HE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE ONLY ONE WHO WENT DOWN. FENTY AND HIS ASS CREW SHOULD HAVE BEEN PART AND PARCEL ON CITY COFFERS CASH-OUT CLEAN UP.

    NO FOOL HERE. JUST KEEPING IT GULLY!

    @TOM-WHAT IS STUPID IS YOUR MOTHER ASKING FOR $10 FOR THAT WEAK ASS BLOWJOB WHEN SHE COULD HAVE GOTTEN $12.50! WHAT IS VILE AND DISGUSTING IS HER STILL GIVING BJ’S!

    YO NAMEY ARE YOU SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE??? I KNOW YOU BELLY FULL FROM THIS WEEKEND BUT YOU STILL HUNGRY. YOU SHOULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT BRUISING FROM YOUR DOG COLLAR AND USE SOME LOTION FOR THOSE CALLUSES ON YOUR KNEES FROM WALKING ON ALL FOURS THE PAST FEW DAYS.

    EXCUSE MY POST FOLKS I’M JUST TRYING TO KEEP WITH THE PERIWINKY PRIDE THEME WILLY EARL ESTABLISHED YESTERDAY.

  • Bigbrohawkeye1

    Let me get this straight: This is the same individual, who was supported by the "majority" of the council to Chairman Pro Tempore! Makes you wonder about the rest of the council, now doesn't it?

  • tony

    It's time for the black community to move pass Michael Brown and focus on the upcoming election. We must ensure that we get black folks to run for office and help them get elected.

    Black power lives!

  • tony

    Mayor Gray will run for re-election and he will win. Even an indicted Mayor Gray could beat everyone out there.

    I have a hunch that Mayor Gray will not take any plea deals but rather opt for a trial if it comes to that.

    I wonder under this scenario will it just be his name and professional career on the line.

    Just a thought.

  • Really?

    Preach noodlez! @ Tony blacks folks weren't feelin M. Brown
    when he was in office b/c M. Brown never felt them.

    I see LL hasn't change 99 articles abt the same dame down thing.

  • truth hurts

    H.Thomas, K.Brown, M.Brown. All three have sworn to committing felonies while in office. Soon one city gray will make it four. History in the making, folks. Very sad.

  • R. Scott

    @noodlez you may have a point, Machen had something on Kwame, re-signing from office was part of the deal, we may never what happens

    @truth hurts, no one has an excuse to be sad, they should be angry for being fools, the pre-requsite for office in DC should not be, because my daddy did it....KBrown, MBrown and HThomas, did not have the merit or education to hold office, then what gets me is that is CM Orange held a press conference about Kwame's financial problems during the Chairman Race no one listened, then when Phil made Brown pro temp., Orange again said dude are you crazy this guy is not ethical or fit to be on the Council, but still no one listened, all this stuff is on DC voters.....

  • StrangeFruit

    Unreal! M. Brown dumb ass really believe he was one of the boys. Now his bourgeois ass is going learn behind bars you are still one of us.

  • tony

    .@Strangefruit, that's what’s up!

    I guess Mike is looking at a relatively light sentence. And this is why I have some respect for Brother Machen. Clearly, he is not trying to destroy these brothers because he cut all of them fair sentences. This means something to this black man who has seen some prosecutor stick black men with outrageous sentences upon their conviction.

    I believe that brother Machen intentions are pure but I think he is a tough spot with this Mayor Gray investigation. Unless he can demonstrate, that Gray personally was involved in some type of illegal scheme to enrich himself, then it’s going to be hard a sell.

    One thing that we, as the black community, can say is that Brother Machen will only bring a case against the Mayor if there’s sufficient evidence to back up the charges. I don’t believe we have to worry about this Brother doing anything to try to trip up the Mayor. He will follow the evidence where ever its leads him. And where will that be; only time will tell.

  • drez

    Tony
    Since you'll never get off that black power kick, just please do us all a favor and pick someone honest to back this time around. There's lots of people out there. They may not be the most experienced but at least they have integrity.

  • Michael Brown Supporter

    FUCK'EM!!! I was told never trust a man with no chin. He always looked like he was up to no good. FUCK'EM!!!

  • StrangeFruit

    @ Drez,

    Why should Tony get off the "black power kick"? Tony ain't stepping out of his blackness at nobody's backdoor to walk into the front door. You should try sometimes cause it feels so damn good !

  • Really?

    @R. Scott The Bushes, Kennedys, (who ya’ll love to idolize) and got more scandals then the mofo, Lees, Delays etc can do it. But, not ya’ll black folk…nope!

    Merit is subjective and Marion (who many love to hate) had merit and was like three credits from a PH.D

    Lastly, doesn't look good for Orange.

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