Updated at 12:20 p.m.
The head of Vinson & Elkins' white-collar practice, William Lawler III, is representing the latest defendant netted in U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr.'s local corruption probe.
Vernon Hawkins, a former volunteer adviser for Mayor Vincent Gray's (D) mayoral campaign in 2010, was charged today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with one count of making false statements to FBI agents. Lawler is listed as Hawkins' attorney on the court docket.
Lawler joins a growing list of big-name white-collar defense lawyers representing clients nabbed in Machen's local corruption investigations. Most recently, Steptoe & Johnson's Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig represented former D.C. Council member Michael Brown, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to taking bribes. Gray hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing, but he's been represented by Hogan Lovells' Robert Bennett as the investigation into the 2010 campaign has progressed.
Lawler's past clients include baseball star Miguel Tejada and Paul Magliocchetti, the founder of a now-dissolved defense lobbying firm. According to his firm biography, Lawler's practice includes Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and, in the United Kingdom, Bribery Act matters. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
Hawkins is accused of lying to FBI agents investigating misconduct during the 2010 mayoral campaign. Prosecutors said Hawkins gave money to a person involved in a pro-Gray get-out-the-vote effort to convince that person to leave town and avoid speaking with federal investigators. Hawkins is charged with falsely telling agents he didn’t know anything about such a scheme.
The criminal information filed against Hawkins today doesn't identify the person who received the payments, except as a local caterer who served as the transportation coordinator for the get-out-the-vote effort. That effort was funded by a local business executive who also wasn't identified in the information, but Washington businessman Jeffrey Thompson is the subject of an ongoing investigation into a $650,000 shadow campaign supporting Gray in 2010.
Thompson is being represented by William & Connolly's Brendan Sullivan Jr.
Hawkins is expected to plead guilty. His arraignment and plea hearing are scheduled for tomorrow. The charge of making false statements carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a fine.
The case is before Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.