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D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown Charged With Bank Fraud

Expected to resign in the next day or so

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D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown left the Wilson Building without comment Wednesday, after being charged with fraud.
Patrick Madden
D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown left the Wilson Building without comment Wednesday, after being charged with fraud.

D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown has been charged with one count of bank fraud, according to a criminal information filed in federal court Wednesday, and he may soon resign. This would make Brown the second sitting councilmember charged by the District's U.S. Attorney's Office over the last few months.

The document, which signals a defendant's willingness to cooperate and usually precedes a plea deal, says that Brown overstated his salary on a home equity loan from Industrial Bank, taken out to buy a boat, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

Chaos at the Wilson Building

It was a chaotic scene Wednesday afternoon, as Council Chairman Brown finally left his office to face a crowd of reporters gathered outside. It quickly turned into a frenzy as reporters crowded around the Chairman and his staffers and security guards pushed back in the narrow hallways of the Wilson Building.

It was his first appearance since federal prosecutors filed the criminal information. He had been locked in a closed-door meeting with staff all afternoon. While Brown hasn't officially resigned yet, sources say that he told councilmembers in a closed-door meeting that he plans to make the announcement in the next day or so. If that happens, councilmember Mary Cheh temporarily assumes the role.

Brown's plea agreement hearing is set for Friday at 11 a.m.

Heightened tensions on the Council

This comes after Brown had told his colleagues Tuesday morning that he was relinquishing his position as chair of the powerful economic development committee of the council, turning that committee over to Council member Michael Brown and merging it with the Brown's committee on housing. 

The move prompted rumors regarding Brown's political future and the federal probe into his 2008 campaign. But later Tuesday, the chairman struck a defiant tone, telling reporters he's not going anywhere.

"I have no plans to resign. That's all I am going to say about this at this time, I have no plans, at this time, to resign," Brown said. 

At that time, Brown said the rampant speculation isn't bothering him, although early in the day the chair appeared to shove a WTOP reporter who was trying to ask him a question. 

WTOP reporter Mark Segraves approached Brown in the Wilson Building, asking him to respond to reports that his resignation may be near. Brown kept repeating, "No questions, no questions," and then appeared to shove the reporter.

Brown later apologized to Segraves, and then, speaking to all of the journalists in a cramped council boardroom, apologized to District voters for the distractions caused by the federal investigation. 

"I regret the fact that we are even having this conversation. I regret that we are talking about a 2008 campaign," Brown said. "I am very sorry that residents have been dealing with these distractions." 

Brown added that the council continues to work hard under his leadership, pointing to the budget that was unanimously approved yesterday. But the focus remains on the investigation into his 2008 campaign. At one point, he was asked point blank if he broke any laws.

"I don't think I broke any laws in the 2008 campaign and that's all I am going to say about the 2008 campaign," Brown said yesterday.

Kwame Brown Criminal Information

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