Former Michael Brown Treasurer Charged With Blowing Campaign Fund on Jet-Setting
It's been a week of highs and lows for disgraced former D.C. Councilmember Michael A. Brown. Already humiliated last year after taking bribes in sports team merchandise, he saw shadow campaign maestro Jeff Thompson drag his name through the mud a little more this Monday as he described Brown taking a $200,000 payoff to drop out of the 2006 mayoral race. But now, Brown gets a little vindication.
Federal prosecutors unsealed a February indictment today against Hakim Sutton, the former campaign treasurer that Brown accused of stealing more than $100,000 from his war chest. In a 14-count indictment that includes charges of tax evasion and wire fraud, the same U.S. Attorney's Office that prosecuted him for bribery shows that they think he was right about Sutton.
Now they just have to find him. Sutton's in the wind, according to court documents, and the indictment was unsealed with the hope of shaking him loose. Sutton attorney J. Wyndal Gordon, the self-proclaimed "Warrior Lawyer," didn't respond to LL's request for comment.
Instead of spending money to get Brown elected, prosecutors say, Sutton made off with $115,250 in Brown's treasury by transferring campaign money into his personal bank account or just writing out campaign checks to cash, then lying about the missing money in reports to the Office of Campaign Finance.
Sutton allegedly spent the money on purchases on limos and stores including Armani Exchange, Gucci, Ferragamo, Best Buy, and Universal Gear. Brown's drained campaign account—it had dipped below $3,000 by June 2012, when Brown fired Sutton—also allegedly provided Sutton with a jet-setting lifestyle that included trips to Martha's Vineyard, Fire Island, Rehoboth Beach, Las Vegas, San Diego, New York City, Miami Beach, and abroad to Greece.
In June 2012, while running to keep the at-large Council seat he won with the help of a Thompson shadow campaign four years earlier, Brown fired Sutton and accused of him of making off with the money. Police searched Sutton's home and a war of words between the two former friends began, with Sutton's attorney accusing Brown of being the real thief.
With Brown awaiting sentencing on unrelated charges and Sutton vanished, the most lasting impact of the alleged theft may be in what it did to Brown's chances in the general election. Without the campaign resources that come with being the incumbent, Brown went on to lose his seat to fellow independent David Grosso that November.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery