Vernon Hawkins pleads guilty to making false statements

Vernon Hawkins pleaded guilty Tuesday. (Photo: WJLA)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - An aide to Mayor Vincent Gray pleaded guilty Tuesday in D.C. in connection with an ongoing probe into an alleged 2010 shadow campaign.

Vernon Hawkins has pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count making a false statement to the FBI. He is accused of taking part in a scheme to hide a witness from the FBI.

Hawkins appeared in court without family members or other supporters.

He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. But authorities say he is cooperating with authorities in the ongoing political corruption probe centering on D.C. businessman Jeffrey Thompson’s 2010 alleged shadow campaign for Mayor Vincent Gray.

“Today Vernon Hawkins became the fourth person to plead guilty to a felony for trying to cover up corruption in the 2010 mayoral election,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen. “This guilty plea takes us one step closer to understanding the extent of the deception that tainted the 2010 campaign.”

Hawkins, 74, is a former D.C. Human Services director and a close friend and supporter of Gray.

In court Tuesday, Hawkins admitted that when he learned the campaign was being investigated and the feds were trying to get in touch with the get-out-the-vote man, whom sources identify as caterer Lamont Mitchell, campaign big wigs Jeffrey Thompson and Jeanne Harris wanted Mitchell out of D.C.

In court papers, Hawkins said he met Mitchell in a southeast D.C. supermarket parking lot. Hawkins said he gave Mitchell $4,000 to disappear for several weeks in December 2011, than stunned when he saw him again in January 2012, gave him another $4,000 to leave again.

When the FBI initially asked Hawkins about the payoffs, he denied knowing about it.

On Tuesday, he said he lied to the FBI, a felony, and also from now on will fully cooperate in the federal probe.

He will even take lie detectors if they doubt him.