Ex-DC Council Chair Sentenced to 1 Day in Custody
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown, who admitted to violating campaign finance laws, avoided most of his possible jail time when he was sentenced Tuesday, but will have to spend hundreds of hours doing community service and stay out of trouble.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ordered Brown to spend the time between the conclusion of his 11 a.m. hearing and 5:30 p.m. in the custody of the U.S. Marshals for admitting to lying on loan applications. He also will spend six months on home detention and do 480 hours of community service.
In the afternoon, a different judge sentenced Brown, 42, to 30 days in jail — all suspended — on a campaign finance violation that was rooted in an unreported side bank account opened by a relative during his 2008 campaign. Brown, who appeared in court in handcuffs and leg chains, will not have to do additional jail time or community service as a result of that charge as long as he stays out of trouble.
Brown admitted to both crimes and gave up his council role in June as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.
He apologized for his actions during Tuesday morning’s hearing and said he knew he should have been truthful on applications for a home and boat loan, rather than inflating his income by tens of thousands of dollars.
“It was stupid,” he said of his actions.
Brown said he had been embarrassed and ridiculed, and he asked for leniency.
“I’ve already paid a significant price for my wrongdoing,” Brown said.
Brown’s lawyer, Frederick D. Cooke, argued his client made a “horrible, horrible mistake in judgment” but that no one had been harmed because Brown has so far met his obligations to repay the loans. He argued his client should get probation and community service.
Government prosecutors, however, asked that Brown spend six days in jail, serving that time on weekends.
“The residents of D.C. are watching this case,” prosecutor David Johnson told the judge, asking him to send a message that no one, regardless of their position, is above the law.
Leon told Brown that he believed he had to sentence him to at least a day in custody, both legally and symbolically. But he said he believed Brown could spend his time in better ways than prison.
During the afternoon hearing, Brown told the judge he didn’t wish to speak, and government prosecutors and Brown’s lawyer agreed that probation was an appropriate sentence for the charge.
Brown, who was elected to the council in 2004 and became its chairman in 2011, became the second council member to resign this year when he stepped down in June. Councilmember Harry L. Thomas Jr. resigned in January after he was accused of stealing more than $350,000 in government funds. Thomas pleaded guilty and was sentenced in May to more than three years in prison.
Fellow Councilmember Phil Mendelson last week won a special election to replace Brown as chairman of the D.C. Council. Mendelson had been serving as interim chairman following Brown’s resignation.
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