D.C.

Michael Brown to plead guilty to bribery charges

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WASHINGTON (AP/ABC7) - A friend says a former District of Columbia councilmember has told associates that he plans to plead guilty to a federal corruption charge Monday.

Robert Brannum, a staunch supporter of former D.C. Councilman Michael Brown, says he told friends and supporters Thursday night that federal prosecutors are accusing him of bribery.

Those charges of bribery of a public official were filed Friday morning in U.S. District Court.

“He admitted it was something he should not have gotten into,” Brannum says.

The charging documents allege that Brown accepted $55,000 in cash from undercover FBI agents. Those agents were posing as businessmen who were trying to obtain what's called a Certified Business Enterprise from the District's Department of Small and Local Business Development.

According to the department, CBE certification affords businesspeople in Washington receive "preferred procurement and contracting opportunities."

Other problems erupted for Brown when $110,000 went missing from a campaign account last September.

Brannum says Brown didn't believe he had broken the law but considered a trial too risky. An attorney for Brown did not immediately respond to a phone message Friday morning.

Brown, the son of former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, abruptly dropped out of a special election for an open seat in April because of personal and family concerns.

Last May, former D.C. Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. was sentenced to 38 months for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds earmarked for youth sports programs. Last June, Kwame Brown was forced to resign as chairman for bank fraud. 

Phil Mendelson, the current chairman, could say little. 

“Citizens are frustrated, I understand,” says Phil Mendelson. “Don’t blame them for being frustrated. They have the right to expect better from their government.” 

Yet Brannum says on a human level he still supports Brown.

“He made a decision that was not in his best interest,” he says.

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