The government’s investigation into the former chairman’s finances and campaign started more than a year ago as prosecutors and agents began scrutinizing Brown’s 2008 reelection bid for an at-large council seat. Brown raised nearly $1 million and drew the scrutiny of the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, which audited the campaign’s books and found that the raising and spending of more than $270,000 had not been reported.
The audit also determined that $239,000 had been passed along to a now-defunct consulting firm run by Brown’s brother Che. The campaign also failed to register a $60,000 bank account that Che Brown controlled, the audit found.
In charging papers filed in D.C. Superior Court, Brown was accused of facilitating an illegal campaign expenditure greater than $50 in cash. Under D.C. law, it is illegal to spend more than $50 in cash on a campaign expense.
Prosecutors wrote that Brown allowed a relative to become a signatory on his campaign account at Industrial Bank. That person opened a second account there, called the “side account,” court papers say. The relative is not identified in court papers, but a city audit shows that the person is Che Brown.
Prosecutors wrote that Kwame Brown knew his brother would be making “individual cash campaign expenditures in excess of $50” from a committee bank account. And on Sept. 11, 2009, prosecutors allege, Che Brown paid a person more than $50 in cash for a campaign expense. The specific amount and the reason for the purchase were not detailed in the document.
Kwame Brown’s attorney, Frederick D. Cooke Jr., declined to comment. Sources familiar with the case said Brown is expected to plead guilty to the misdemeanor Friday, although the former chairman could decide to contest the charge in a bench trial.
A hearing in the misdemeanor case is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday before D.C. Superior Court Judge Juliet J. McKenna.
Che Brown has not been charged with a crime and could not be reached to comment. His attorney, A. Scott Bolden, said he “had no comment whatsoever.”
The investigation into the 2008 campaign is continuing, federal law enforcement officials have said.
As investigators delved into the campaign, they began to probe Brown’s troubled finances; in 2010, he was at least $700,000 in debt. They also examined a series of loans that were secured by a home he bought in 2002 in the Southeast Washington neighborhood of Hillcrest.
Investigators determined that Brown falsified records to obtain loans. In court papers, prosecutors allege that he committed bank fraud by overstating his income by “tens of thousands of dollars” to Industrial Bank in order to obtain a home-equity loan and buy a $50,000 powerboat, named “Bullet Proof.”