Kwame Brown resigns, charged with bank fraud, campaign violations
Just hours after he resigned his post on the D.C. Council after being charged with bank fraud, misdemeanor campaign finance violations were filed Thursday against former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown.
D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown has yet to discuss his resignation with the media after he was charged with one count of bank fraud - a charge prosecutors say is linked to his attempt to obtain loans from a D.C.-area bank.
The U.S. Attorney filed misdemeanor campaign violation charges in D.C. Superior Court Thursday against Brown. The new charge stems from Brown's 2008 re-election campaign and accuses him of authorizing a relative to open a "side account," the Associated Press reports.
A plea hearing on the fraud charge has been scheduled for Friday.
In documents filed in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday, Brown is accused of defrauding Industrial Bank between 2005 and 2007 with the intention of obtaining money, assets and other property under false pretenses.
Whether east of the river or in Cleveland Park, the criminal charges against Kwame Brown and his resulting resignation evoke strong opinions from D.C. residents.
“I think it's a good thing that he stepped down,” says Bruce Lindsay, a NW resident. “I don't think someone who is a criminal should serve on the City Council.”
On Brown's Facebook page, friends and constituents are offering their support, saying things like: "keep your head up," and "we all make mistakes in life," and "praying for you and your family."
In SE Washington near Brown's Hillcrest neighborhood, people are trying to come to terms with the former council chairman's fall from grace.
“I'm just feeling disappointment and sadness that these things keep happening in D.C. government,” says Joe Span, a SE resident.
While in NE Washington, there is frustration.
“It’s just ego and greed and it’s something we should be able to see before you vote for them and yet again we haven't,” says Stephen Proctor, a NW resident.
On Wednesday afternoon, Brown left City Hall without commenting on the charge or any possible plans to step down.
According to court documents, the fraud was part of a plan to obtain a home equity loan and a loan to buy a boat under false pretenses by grossly overstating his income.
Brown's lawyer, Frederick Cooke, did not return calls seeking comment, and the U.S. Attorney's office declined comment.
Brown addressed his resignation letter to D.C. Council Secretary Nyasha Smith Wednesday afternoon.
ABC 7's Sam Ford reports that D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh, who would take over Brown's position as the chair, was summoned to his office on Wednesday afternoon, but there was no word as to the topic of the meeting.
Cheh issued this statement Wednesday night:
“I want to reassure everyone that the work of the Council will continue uninterrupted. We will move forward focused on the business the people elected us to do.
In accordance with Section 401(b)(3) of the Home Rule Act, I plan to convene the entire Council for a special meeting next Wednesday, June 13th, when we will adopt a resolution to elect an Interim Chair and Interim Chair Pro Tempore. Under the Home Rule Act, both positions will be selected from among the at-large members. Consequently, after their election, I will step aside as Chair Pro Tempore. The meeting will be open to the public.
Under the Council Rules, the Interim Chair would become Chair of the Committee of the Whole, and would retain his role as Chair of his existing standing committee. Also, according to the Home Rule Act, the Interim Chair cannot hold outside employment, and will be eligible to receive an increase in compensation at the rate of the Chairman. The Interim Chair of the Council will serve in that role until a special election.”
The following members of council are at-large members from whom the new Interim Chair and Interim Chair Pro Tempore will be selected :
- David Catania
- Phil Mendelson
- Michael A. Brown
- Vincent Orange
Brown and WTOP/ABC 7 reporter Mark Segraves got into a contentious exchange on Tuesday when Segraves asked him about a potential deal he was making with prosecutors about campaign spending irregularities.
Numerous staff members left Brown's city hall office without speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Segraves reports.
Brown was elected to the council in 2004 and ascended to chairman in January 2011, after Gray became mayor.
The fraud charge is the latest scandal in the D.C. Council. In late May, two former aides to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray pleaded guilty to election-related violations.
Howard Brooks was charged with lying to the FBI about payments to another mayoral candidate, Sulaimon Brown. Brown received more than $2,000 in 10 money orders and an undetermined amount of cash to speak out against former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty during the mayoral 2010 race.
Shortly before Brooks pleaded guilty, another Gray campaign staffer, Thomas Gore, admitted that he and Brooks paid Brown to stay in the 2010 race and make negative comments about Fenty.
ABC 7's Sam Ford and The Associated Press contributed to the story.