Updated 2:33 p.m.
A team from Steptoe & Johnson LLP is representing former D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown in a bribery case prosecutors filed today in Washington federal district court.
Brown, formerly an elected at-large member of the D.C. Council, in January agreed to a $55,000 cash bribe from undercover FBI agents who were posing as officials from a company whose identity isn't disclosed in court papers. Brown lost his re-election bid in January.
Prosecutors, including assistant U.S. attorneys Michael Atkinson, David Last and Anthony Saler, said in the one-count information that Brown agreed to the bribe "in return for being influenced in the performance of an official act."
The government lawyers said Brown offered to provide assistance to "Company M" to get contracts in Washington and to obtain approval as a Certified Business Enterprise from the D.C. Department of Small and Local. Brown will plead guilty to the bribery charge. U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins has set a plea hearing for June 10.
Brown's attorneys include two of Washington's top criminal defense lawyers, Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig, who leads Steptoe's white-collar defense group. Steptoe litigation associate Scott Armstrong is also on the defense team.
“Michael Brown made a serious lapse in judgment at a time when he faced severe financial difficulties," Heberlig said in a statement today. "He has accepted full responsibility for his mistakes, cooperated with the authorities, and intends to plead guilty to the information filed today. He has apologized to his friends and family and asks his former constituents for their forgiveness as well.”
Heberlig and Weingarten are on the defense team representing former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. in a campaign finance prosecution in Washington. Heberlig and Weingarten also represented former Arizona Congressman Richard "Rick" Renzi, who is on trial now. (Mayer Brown partner Kelly Kramer, co-leader of the firm's white-collar practice, is a lead trial attorney for Renzi.)
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said in statement called the bribery charge against Brown "disturbing and unfortunate."
Brown is the third current or former D.C. Council member to be charged in federal court since 2012 on corruption allegations. Kwame Brown and Harry Thomas Jr. pleaded guilty in unrelated criminal cases last year.
"Once again the Council, which has striven for a year to regain stability, is damaged by the specter of continuing corruption," Mendelson said in the statement. "It is my hope that those of us who have been elected to serve will see the news of Mr. Brown's plea as stimulus to redouble our efforts to improve ethics and regain the public's trust."
Prosecutors in Washington are continuing their investigation of corruption in the 2010 mayoral campaign. One target in that probe, Jeffrey Thompson, a prominent businessman in the District who's represented by Williams & Connolly, recently lost a fight in an appeals court here over a government search warrant.