Photos: Michael A. Brown takes bribes from undercover federal agents


(U.S. Justice Department)

(U.S. Justice Department)

Former D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown pleaded guilty Monday to a federal bribery charge, admitting to taking $55,000 in return for helping two purported businessmen navigate the District government bureaucracy. They were, in fact, undercover FBI agents, and now Brown likely faces up to three years and one month in prison.

The extent of Brown’s wrongdoing is laid out in a 31-page court document, and look for plenty of details from therein in tomorrow’s Washington Post. But the most memorable part of this lowlight in D.C. political history are likely to be the photos above, which show Brown in the process of accepting the bribes that will almost certainly put him in prison.

The first photo shows Brown accepting a coffee mug that, according to the court documents, contained $15,000 in rolled-up $100 bills and was handed to Brown on Aug. 28, 2012, at the Channel Inn in Southwest Washington. An undercover agent told Brown he “put together five Gs” and placed the mug on the table. What happened next is laid out in the court document: “BROWN responded, ‘Definitely always very helpful.’ BROWN left the restaurant with the mug.”

The second photo shows Brown on March 14 with wads of cash totaling $20,000 — again, $100 bills, this time simply wrapped with rubber bands — in a Marriott Wardman Park conference room where he thought he was meeting the aspiring city contractors. The court papers describe the scene thusly: “At the end of the meeting, law enforcement agents entered the room and announced their presence. As the agents were entering the room, BROWN placed the $20,000 in cash on the table in front of him.”

Update, 12:15 a.m.: The post originally indicated that the first photo was taken on Aug. 7. In fact, as the timestamp on the image clearly indicates, it was on Aug. 28. In both cases, Brown was meeting with undercover agents at the Channel Inn and cash was passed via coffee mug.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis | June 10, 2013