The chairman of the District of Columbia Council was charged Wednesday with lying about his income on loan applications, the latest allegation of criminal wrongdoing to roil the local government in the nation’s capital.
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Kwame R. Brown, one of the most-influential leaders in D.C. government, was charged with a single count of bank fraud and accused of overstating his income by tens of thousands of dollars. He was accused in a criminal information, a document that generally signals that a defendant has agreed to plead guilty.
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Brown becomes the second D.C. councilmember since January to be criminally charged and the allegations also come as federal authorities investigate the 2010 campaign of Mayor Vincent Gray, who preceded Brown as council chairman.
Brown’s lawyer, Frederick Cooke, did not return calls seeking comment and did not speak to reporters camped outside of Brown’s office ahead of a 3 p.m. meeting with fellow councilmembers. The U.S. attorney’s office said it would have no comment on the charge.
Court papers say Brown misstated his income by tens of thousands of dollars in loan applications submitted in 2005 for a home equity loan and for a new boat. Federal authorities had also been investigating his 2008 campaign for financial improprieties, but the charging documents do not include any campaign-related allegations.
The council functions as a state legislature in D.C., with its 13 members voting on legislation and a multi-billion-dollar budget that affects all corners of city life.
Brown was charged six months after then-Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. pleaded guilty to stealing more than $350,000 in city funds earmarked for youth sports and arts programs. Thomas resigned after being charged and was replaced in a special election last month. In a separate investigation, two former campaign aides to Gray pleaded guilty to charges stemming from illicit payments intended to encourage a minor candidate in the race to badmouth Adrian Fenty, the then-incumbent.
Brown was elected to the council in 2004 and ascended to chairman in January 2011, after Gray became mayor.