Reached in Las Vegas, where he is working to attract business to the District, Gray declined to comment. His office referred all calls to the mayor’s criminal defense lawyer, Robert S. Bennett, who said: “It’s a pending investigation. I don’t have any comment.”
The allegations involve one of Gray’s longtime friends and associates, Thomas W. Gore, who acted as the 2010 campaign’s assistant treasurer.
Monday’s charges came in a “criminal information,” which can be filed only with the defendant’s consent and signals a plea deal is near. Gore is expected to appear in the District’s federal court Tuesday at a “plea agreement hearing,” according to the court’s Web site. His attorney said Gore is cooperating in the criminal investigation.
Gore, 56, is accused by federal prosecutors of providing a rival candidate $535 in illegal campaign contributions in June or July of 2010 and then destroying a spiral-bound notebook that documented the payoffs. The donations were made through money orders “in the name of another person,” prosecutors said.
Court papers allege that Gore got rid of the notebook “on or about” the day The Washington Post published an article saying that minor mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown claimed that he had received money orders from Gray’s campaign in exchange for attacks against incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.
Gray later defeated Fenty in the tightly contested Democratic primary and coasted to a general-election victory.
Gore has been charged with three D.C. election law misdemeanors and one federal charge of destroying records.
Although he could face up to 20 years in prison on the obstruction charge and a maximum penalty of six months in jail on each of the D.C. offenses, Gore is likely to serve far less prison time under federal sentencing guidelines. His attorney, Frederick D. Cooke Jr., declined to say whether his client intended to plead guilty but said, “We’re answering questions. We’re participating in a cooperative fashion. That’s all we can do.”
Gore, who did not return calls for comment, has been a friend of Gray’s for two decades and served as the treasurer of his 2004 run for a seat on the D.C. Council and his successful 2006 campaign to become the body’s chairman. In the 2010 mayoral race, he played a less prominent role because Gray and others were concerned about the perception of a conflict of interest — Gore is the former president and executive director of a nonprofit group that has received city assistance in the past.
Although Gore did not hold the title of campaign treasurer — that job belonged to one of Gray’s neighbors — he acted in that capacity and kept a tight grip on its purse strings, campaign workers have said.