Former D.C. Council chairman Kwame R. Brown was given a curfew and sternly admonished Tuesday morning by a federal judge for failing to report to authorities by telephone, a condition of his release in a bank fraud case.
Brown, who is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 13, apologized during a brief hearing in the District's federal court for not calling pretrial officials on three occasions as required by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon. The judge placed him on an 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. curfew and ordered that he report to court officials in person until his sentencing.
“Mr. Brown, what do you have to say about your conduct? Three strikes?” Leon asked after Patty Sucato, a pretrial release official, said Brown did not call her office during the weeks of June 11, July 16 and Sept. 10.
“Well, your honor,” Brown said. “First, I would like to apologize. I know the importance of calling in . . .”
“You do?” Leon interrupted. “Your conduct doesn’t reflect that at all. After three times?”
“Your apology is a little late in the game,” the judge added. “What’s your excuse?”
In a barely audible mumble, Brown (D) then said that he was out of town that first week and forgot to call. On the second occasion, he thought he had taken care of his reporting responsibility when he called to alert court officials that he was leaving town that week. He didn’t think he had to call during the week of Sept. 10 because he had been booked that week by D.C. police on a related campaign finance charge in Superior Court.
Leon seemed unimpressed. “You are weeks away from sentencing,” he told Brown before imposing the curfew and stiffer reporting requirements. “This is not the way to position yourself most favorably before sentencing.”
Brown and his attorney declined to comment as they left the courtroom.
In June, the former council chairman resigned from office and pleaded guilty to lying on bank-loan applications, admitting that he committed a federal felony when he forged a name on one loan document and switched a “3” to an “8” to inflate his salary on another. Under nonbinding sentencing guidelines, he faces up to six months in jail.
Brown also pleaded guilty on that same day in June in D.C. Superior Court to a misdemeanor charge of violating a city campaign statute that prohibits cash expenditures in excess of $50. During the Tuesday hearing, it appeared that Brown was referring to being “booked” on that charge.
Brown’s hearing came a day before a former aide to Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s 2010 campaign is to be sentenced on a felony charge of making a false statement to FBI agents about helping to funnel illicit payments to the campaign of a fringe mayoral candidate and Gray’s election effort. Because Howard Brooks, 64, cooperated extensively with authorities, federal prosecutors have urged U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to sentence him to probation.
Brooks was on the finance and treasury teams of Gray’s campaign for mayor. At the time, Gray was the D.C. Council chairman and was engaged in a fierce election battle with then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in the Democratic primary. Gray beat Fenty and cruised to a general election victory.
Brooks has admitted that he diverted $2,810 in Gray campaign funds to the fringe candidate, Sulaimon Brown, through hard-to-trace money orders. He also admitted that he provided $2,000 in straw donations to Gray’s campaign.