Former D.C. Councilman Michael Brown Pleads Guilty to Bribery

Brown accused of taking $55,000 from FBI agents posing as businessmen

Former D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown pleaded guilty to bribery of a public official Monday. He now faces up to 37 months in prison as part of a plea deal.

According to court documents, Brown admitted to accepting $15,000 in cash in a duffel bag that also contained a Nationals baseball cap and T-shirt. It was followed by another $10,000 in cash inside a Redskins mug, as well as other cash payments, according to News4's Mark Segraves.

Brown took the money from undercover FBI agents who posed as businessmen seeking a D.C. minority business contract.

There was an additional bombshell in the charging documents released in court: They showed Brown accepted $20,000 in off-the-books campaign contributions from Jeanne Clark Harris during a run for city council. Clark Harris has already pleaded guilty to being part of a shadow campaign related to Mayor Vincent Grey's 2010 campaign.

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Lawyer Brian Heberling told News4 his client immediately cooperated with officials.

"Upon learning the nature of the government sting operation, he did all the right things," Heberling said. "He accepted responsibility for his conduct, he cooperated with the government's investigation, he stepped aside from the ongoing city council race, he maintained discretion about the investigation and he ultimately pleaded guilty [Monday]."

The undercover sting occurred about a year and a half ago, when Brown was a sitting council member. At the time, he was having financial issues in connection with a strained marriage, sources told News4's Tom Sherwood.

Brown -- who pleaded guilty in 1997 to a misdemeanor campaign finance violation -- lost his seat on District council last November and abruptly pulled out of another council election in April.

Last year, police also launched an investigation after more than $100,000 went missing from Brown's campaign. That case remains under investigation.

On Friday, Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans, speaking on the Kojo Nnamdi WAMU Politics Hour, said the incident is embarrassing to the city and damaging to public trust.

Brown could have faced up to 15 years in prison.

He is due back in court Oct. 3 for sentencing.


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