The new charges and Tuesday’s plea deal, which came with an extensive cooperation clause, signal that federal authorities are hoping that the two lower-level aides can help them build cases against others who worked on Gray’s campaign.
Federal authorities also are scrutinizing a prominent D.C. contractor, Jeffrey Thompson, and his extensive ties to the mayor, his administration and D.C. Council members. Thompson’s house and offices were raided by federal agents in March, and authorities have served federal grand jury subpoenas on a number of D.C. Council members seeking records of their dealings with the contractor.
Wednesday’s charges involved Howard Brooks, 64, a consultant who worked on the Gray campaign’s treasury and financial teams. Brooks was accused of lying to FBI agents when he denied giving cash or money orders to a minor mayoral candidate in the 2010 campaign. In fact, prosecutors have alleged, he gave that candidate, Sulaimon Brown, hundreds of dollars in the hopes of keeping him in the race to continue assailing incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty in the Democratic primary.
Gray, then chairman of the D.C. Council, defeated Fenty in the tightly contested primary and later cruised to a general-election victory. Hours after Wednesday’s charges were made public, the mayor deflected questions, saying he could not comment about an “ongoing pending investigation.”
“I’m focused on the city at this stage, and I’m going to do everything I possibly can,” he said. “I’m focused on the job I was elected to do, and I’m working all day, every day.”
Brooks, who was paid $44,000 by Gray’s campaign, was charged in a “criminal information” with one felony count of making a false statement to FBI agents. A criminal information can be filed only with a defendant’s consent and generally signals a plea deal has been reached. Brooks is scheduled to appear at a plea hearing Thursday afternoon in the District’s federal court. He could not be reached for comment; his attorney, Glenn Ivey, declined to comment until after Thursday’s proceeding.
It will be the second such hearing this week. Thomas W. Gore, the Gray campaign’s former assistant treasurer and a longtime confidant of the mayor’s, pleaded guilty to related charges Tuesday.
In court papers, prosecutors alleged that Brooks and Gore discussed a plan in June 2010 that would funnel illicit donations of excess and “unattributed” cash campaign donations to Brown to keep him in the Democratic primary. Gore used Gray’s campaign money to obtain at least five money orders worth $660. After ensuring the orders were signed in the names of his family members or one of their friends, Brooks passed them along to Brown, according to court records filed in Gore’s case.