Former D.C. Councilmember Michael A. Brown (D-At Large) began his prison sentence on his federal bribery conviction July 29. He pled guilty to the charge in June 2013.
Brown was sentenced in May 2014 to 39 months for carrying out a scheme in which he accepted a total of $55,000 in a series of meetings with undercover FBI agents. The agents posed as company officials wanting to win government contracting opportunities.
The plea agreement called for Brown to pay a money judgment of $35,000, covering the amount of money he collected before being confronted by law enforcement. At the completion of his prison term, Brown will be placed on two years of supervised release.
Brown emailed friends and supporters with details for reaching him by mail. “Thank you for your continued prayers and support,” wrote Brown.
“Michael A. Brown, Register Number: 25098-016
Maxwell Air Force Base
Montgomery, AL 36112”
“Rather than wielding his political power to serve the citizens of the District of Columbia who voted for him, Michael Brown exerted his influence on behalf of purported contractors who were willing to line his pockets with hundred-dollar bills,” said U.S. Attorney Machen, in a May 29, press release. “Brown’s decision to auction off the public trust was especially disappointing because of his enormous potential to stand as a bright light for the residents of this city. His term of incarceration will hopefully serve as an admonition to other public officials who are considering betraying their oath of office for fast cash.”
Machen’s office, contacted about Brown’s sentence beginning, said its work is done and future inquiries should be made to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Community activists weighed-in on ethics issue. “As elected officials we have an obligation to serve the residents with dignity and integrity. Public service is about improving the lives of your constituents and should never be about your personal interest,” said Commissioner Wendell Felder, 23. “We have to be mindful of the message that we are sending to the future leaders of the District when elected officials display bad ethics and poor leadership skills.”
Brown was the third member of the Council to plead guilty within the past three years to federal charges involving crimes committed while in office. Former Councilmember Harry L. Thomas Jr., (D-Ward 5), pled guilty in January 2012 to federal theft and tax charges for using more than $350,000 in taxpayer money for personal gain.
Former Council Chair Kwame R. Brown pled guilty in June 2012 to a federal charge of bank fraud, involving two personal loans, and a second criminal charge involving a violation of the DC campaign finance laws.
“For African Americans who have excelled to elected public office, there is a double responsibility. Not only are we giving public service but we represent people who emerged from slavery,” said Ernest Johnson. “It is important that we not get distracted by power, money, or influence.”