Sulaimon Brown says his records are under federal ‘subpoena’

September 6, 2011

Former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown said records that a special D.C. Council committee is seeking through a court order have been turned over to federal authorities under grand jury subpoena.

Brown is scheduled to appear in Superior Court on Sept. 15 on the council’s efforts to get the records as part of the special committee probe into the Gray administration’s hiring practices. Brown has said he was paid and promised a city job by then-mayoral candidate and current mayor Vincent C. Gray’s campaign staff to disparage then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) during last year’s race.

In a letter last month to Judge Judith N. Macaluso, who is overseeing the council’s records request, Brown explained that he could not fulfill the request because he handed over the records to the FBI at the request of the U.S. attorney’s office. The documents “are no longer in my possession,” Brown wrote in the
Aug. 12 letter.

The letter and subpoena, dated June 28, were made public when James W. Rudasill Jr., Brown’s attorney, notified council staff of his client’s response Friday. Brown, who briefly worked this year for the Department of Health Care Finance as a $110,000-a-year special assistant, declined comment Tuesday. Rudasill did not return a call seeking comment.

Although the special committee recently issued a report that concluded that Brown was paid by the campaign, it is still seeking Brown’s records. The council found no evidence that Gray (D) was aware of payments to Brown.

“The council is expressing to the courts and public that I’m being dilatory. I’m not being dilatory; I’m following different set of instructions from parallel investigations all investigating the same thing,” Brown wrote in the letter.

Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), who has led the special committee probe, said she will have to give Brown’s response “some thought.” But she also said his response could mark the end of the council’s investigation. “If indeed he does not have [the records], he is not obligated to give us something he doesn’t have,” she said.

Cheh also said she is satisfied with the council report, even without Brown’s records. “I think we pieced together what we could,” she said.

The June 28 grand jury subpoena “commanded” Brown to appear or to provide records on July 12. The documents requested included copies of personal checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, gifts and anything of value “provided directly or indirectly by Lorraine Green, Howard Brooks, Vincent Gray and/or any member of Gray’s Council staff, campaign staff, transition staff, or Mayoral staff to Sulaimon Brown and/or Sulaimon Brown for Mayor.”

An accompanying June 28 letter from U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Chubin Epstein tells Brown that he was “requested not to disclose the existence of this subpoena.”

“Any disclosure could impede the investigation being conducted and thereby interfere with the enforcement of the law,” the letter reads.

Brown has said that Brooks, a Gray campaign staffer, gave him money orders and cash — a task Brown claims was handed off by Green, chairman of Gray’s campaign and transition.

Gray, Brooks and Green have denied the allegations.

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