Brother of former D.C. Council chairman sentenced to three months in prison

A federal judge sentenced the brother of former D.C. Council chairman Kwame R. Brown to three months in prison on Tuesday for lying on loan documents after he fell behind on mortgage payments.

“You cannot deal with your financial problems by making things up,” U.S. District Judge Amy B. Jackson told Che M. Brown after announcing his sentence, which also includes five years of supervised release and 200 hours of community service.

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Brown’s brother, Kwame, who was the initial focus of the government’s investigation, resigned as council chairman in June. He was sentenced to one day in custody and six months of home detention followed by three years of supervised release in a separate bank-fraud case. He also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating a city campaign finance statute.

Law enforcement officials began investigating the brothers after a complaint was filed with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance against Kwame Brown’s 2008 campaign. Che Brown was a consultant on the campaign.

But the charge that brought Che Brown to federal court Tuesday involved his inflation of income on loan documents. Brown, a self-employed motivational speaker, falsely claimed that he was employed by a local business and submitted several fake pay stubs issued by the owner of the company, who was a friend. The mortgage company eventually lowered the monthly payments on his Southeast home by about $700, according to court documents.

Prosecutors sought a six-month prison term for Che Brown in part because of his previous conviction for bank fraud.

Brown’s attorney, A. Scott Bolden, argued strenuously that his client should not go to prison in part because it would amount to a much stiffer punishment than his brother received for a similar crime.

But the judge chastised the defense, saying that more than two-dozen letters submitted on behalf of supporters that did not mention the previous conviction was an “orchestrated effort to downplay what took place.”

“The defense has gone too far in whitewashing the facts,” Jackson said. “It was not a single act of indiscretion.”

She also had tough words for prosecutors, calling it “inappropriate” to bring up in their sentencing memo Che Brown’s conduct during his brother’s reelection bid.

A D.C. audit found that Kwame Brown’s campaign failed to report raising and spending more than $270,000. The report also found $239,000 in initially unreported campaign money passed to Che Brown’s consulting firm. The U.S. attorney’s office, however, did not bring charges against Che Brown related to the campaign.

After the sentence was announced, Bolden asked the judge to allow Brown to serve his jail time on weekends. Jackson denied the request.

Bolden put his hand on Brown’s and said, “I’m so sorry.” Brown did not comment as he left the courtroom with his parents.

Bolden later said: “It was a tough sentence and disappointing for Che. But the prior conviction seemed to weigh heavily on the court’s mind, and therefore we’ve got to accept that and move forward.”

 
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