D.C.'s Delinquents: Half the District's Leaders Have Been Federally Investigated
By Amy Bingham
From drug possession to tax fraud, city officials in Washington, D.C. are notorious for being less than law abiding.
In the past four years half of D.C.'s top government officials, including D.C. councilmembers and the mayor, have been under investigation by either federal authorities or the D.C. board of elections. Two have resigned and two have served prison time.
Another name was added to the ever-growing list of indicted district leaders this week when D.C.'s council chairman resigned and pled guilty charges of bank fraud.
While Mayor Vincent Gray insists he does not "think there's widespread corruption here," here's a look at some of the politicians who are running the nation's capital city and racking up federal charges in the process.
Job Description: D.C. Council Chairman
Charges: a felony for bank fraud and a misdemeanor for "unlawful cash campaign expenditure"
What happened: Brown pled guilty on Friday to overstating his income by tens of thousands of dollars on a bank loan application to qualify for a home equity loan to buy a boat, according to charges filed Wednesday with D.C.'s district court.
Kwame was also charged with a misdemeanor on Thursday for allegedly failing to report $170,000 in campaign contributions that were held in a "side account" during his 2008 campaign.
Consequence: resigned his council seat on Wednesday
Past Controversies: Brown's tenure as the second-highest ranking District official, behind the mayor, got a rocky start when the chairman ordered district officials to get him a "fully loaded" all-black Lincoln Navigator SUV to drive to during his tenure.
When the SUV arrived with a gray interior, Brown demanded another vehicle with a black interior. D.C. taxpayers footed the $1,600 bill to rush a new Navigator to the District in time for Kwame's inauguration and are still paying nearly $2,000 per month to lease the SUV, the Washington City Paper reports.
The District of Colombia is facing a $600 million budget shortfall for 2012.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Job Description: Mayor
What happened: Gray's 2010 mayoral campaign has been charged with paying his fellow mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown to stay in the race ito continue attacking his opponent, then-incumbent mayor Adrian Fenty, and thereby help Gray's election prospects. Brown says Gray promised him a job with the District if Gray won the election and paid him thousands of dollars in false money orders.
Consequence: Gray has not been charged with any wrongdoing, but his campaign treasurer Thomas Gore pled guilty in May to obstruction of justice, a felony, for destroying evidence and three misdemeanor charges for making campaign donations under someone else's name. Gore faces 12 to 18 months in prison and a possible fine of $3,000 to $30,000.
The mayor's campaign consultant Howard Brooks pled guilty to making false statements to federal prosecutors. He faces a maximum of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Job Description: Mayor for Life, Councilmember for Ward 8
Charges: misdemeanors for cocaine possession, stalking and tax fraud
What happened: Marion Barry, who served as D.C. mayor for more than 20 years, pled guilty to cocaine possession after he was caught on video smoking crack cocaine in a Washington hotel room. Barry served six months in federal prison and was re-elected to another term as mayor after his release.
D.C.'s "Mayor for Life" has also been found guilty of a misdemeanor tax charge for failing to pay the majority of his income taxes during the five years after he left office in 1999. Authorities dropped misdemeanor charges for allegedly stalking his ex-girlfriend and having traces of marijuana and cocaine in his car.
Consequence: Served 6 months in prison for the cocaine charge
Job Description:Councilmember for Ward 5
Charges: federal theft and filing false tax returns, both felonies
What happened: In January, Thomas pled guilty to stealing more than $350,000 in taxpayer money assigned to youth baseball and arts programs and diverting it instead to buy a $58,000 Audi Quattro Premium SUV, a $23,245 Victory motorcycle, expensive clothing, restaurant meals and luxury vacations, according to theU.S. attorney's office. Thomas was the first sitting D.C. city councilmember to be charged with a felony
Consequences: Thomas resigned his city council seat in January and was sentenced to 38 months in prison.
Job Description: At-large councilmember
What happened: Michael Brown seems to have a problem paying his taxes. Last year the councilmember owed more than $14,000 in unpaid property taxes and nearly as much in unpaid income taxes. The IRS filed a lien on his house in 2010 seeking more than $50,000 in income taxes that Brown failed to pay from 2004 through 2008, the Washington Times reports.
Brown is a leading advocate on the council for raising taxes on D.C. residents who earn more than $200,000.
Consequences: Brown is on a repayment plan for his back taxes.
Job Description: Councilmember for Ward 1
Charges: Chief of Staff was charged with two felonies for bribery
What happened: While Graham has not been charged with any wrongdoing, his chief of staff Ted Loza was sentenced eight months in prison for accepting a $1,500 bribe from a taxi cab industry representative while the council was debating taxi reform in 2008.
Consequences: Loza pled guilty to two counts of accepting illegal bribes and one count of making false statements.