WASHINGTON -- District of Columbia Council Chairman Kwame Brown (D), who has been under investigation by federal prosecutors for months, was charged with one count of bank fraud on Wednesday afternoon.
According to multiple media reports, Brown, who was described as "somber," apologized to his council colleagues in an emergency closed session and told them he planned to resign.
The Washington Post, which first reported that Brown would face charges, said that the chairman's lawyer had been working out a plea deal with prosecutors:
Brown sent his resignation letter to the D.C. Council secretary Friday afternoon, according to the Post:
The three-page charging document says that Brown provided Industrial Bank of Washington “falsified documents” that overstated his income by “tens of thousands of dollars” to allow him to obtain a home equity loan and to purchase a boat. Prosecutors wrote that the two-year scam started in August 2005.
I have behaved in ways that I should not have. I was wrong, and I will face the consequences of that conduct. I have apologized to the residents of our great city, and I also offer my unconditional apology to the members of the Council for all of the negative attention that my conduct has brought about.
Brown's move on Wednesday stands in stark contrast to what he told reporters assembled in the Wilson Building on Tuesday, where he said he had "no plans of resigning."
Brown is the second D.C. elected official this year to face federal corruption charges. Former D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) resigned earlier this year after prosecutors charged him with stealing more than $350,000 in city funds. Thomas pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 38 months in prison.
According to tweets from reporters in the Wilson Building, the scene at Brown's office was tense Wednesday afternoon.
D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), the council's president pro tem, was summoned to meet Brown behind closed doors as reporters staked out the hallway outside the chairman's office.
According to the Examiner, Judge Richard Leon will preside over Brown's case.The D.C. Republican Party released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
"Our city deserves better than this. Far too often, District residents are forced to live with elected officials who are deceptive and dishonest. The charges against Kwame Brown are serious and are a result of elected officials feeling entitled to benefits they don’t deserve. Similar to the charges we endured with disgraced Councilmember Harry Thomas, the Council has been complacent and silent as Kwame Brown violated the law,” stated Bob Kabel, Chairman of the DC Republican Committee.
“I sincerely hope the sitting Councilmembers will react quickly, and call for Chairman Brown’s resignation. District residents deserve better than greedy, unethical representation. We deserve elected officials who care about DC, not just themselves,” stated Nick Jeffress, Executive Director of the DC Republican Committee.
"Until District residents begin electing Republican officials, our city will continue to endure similar embarrassments and unethical behavior from our elected officials,” concluded Kabel.
Mayor Gray released the following statement Wednesday afternoon: "I'm shocked by the news; I am disappointed and saddened. I was elected to the Council when Chairman Brown was elected to an at-large position. I served with him my entire time on the Council. Never would I have imagined something like this would occur."
Mo Elleithee, a campaign consultant who served as a senior strategist on Gray's 2010 campaign, didn't mince words in a tweet he sent Wednesday afternoon:
This is a developing story and will be updated ...
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