Former congressional aide convicted of taking pot shop bribe
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former California congressional aide accused of promising to “make things happen” to keep an illegal pot shop in business was convicted Thursday of taking a $5,000 bribe.
The conviction came after Michael Kimbrew, 44, pleaded not guilty in federal court last year to one count each of attempted extortion and bribery of a public official.
A jury returned the verdicts on both charges after six hours of deliberation.
Kimbrew did not take the witness stand in his defense. He could face up to 18 years in prison when he’s sentenced June 4.
Kimbrew “left a pretty damning trail,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsey Greer Dotson told jurors.
He was working in the Compton field office of Rep. Janice Hahn in 2015 when he approached a marijuana shop that was operating illegally and told an employee it would be shut down if he couldn’t reach a deal with the owners, according to prosecutors.
Kimbrew then met with the owners at Compton City Hall, where Hahn had a district office. He told them he was working with state and federal agencies, including the FBI, and for $5,000 could “make things happen” to get the proper medical marijuana permits, an indictment states.
Kimbrew had no authority over marijuana shops, which were illegal in the city at the time, prosecutors said.
Kimbrew later met at City Hall with an FBI agent who was posing as the owners’ business partner.
Jurors watched a video of Kimbrew sitting down with an undercover agent and discussing the bribe, which the agent had hidden in a restaurant menu and passed to the defendant during a second meeting, the indictment says.
Hahn, who is now a Los Angeles County supervisor, was not named in the indictment.