Ex-Congressional Staffer Accused of Extorting LA Pot Shop

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A former congressional staffer who worked for current LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn has been charged with taking $5,000 in bribes from a marijuana dispensary.

The FBI arrested Carson resident Michael Kimbrew, 44, without incident on Wednesday morning, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in LA said.

At his arraignment, Kimbrew pleaded not guilty to charges of federal extortion and bribery. He was released on a $15,000 bond and ordered to stand trial on Sept. 26.

Federal prosecutors say Kimbrew approached a worker at a Compton marijuana store in March 2015 and said he was working with the city. The indictment says Kimbrew told the employee the store was operating unlawfully, and represented that he could prevent its shutdown if the owners agreed to talk to him.

After meeting with the owners at an office at Compton City Hall, Kimbrew told them he was working with the FBI to ensure that medical marijuana dispensaries had the proper permits. He said he could “make things happen,” the indictment says, and told the owners it would cost them $5,000 to obtain permits through the city.

In exchange, Kimbrew said he would not send federal law enforcement to the dispensary to shut it down, prosecutors say.

Hahn is not named in the U.S. Attorney’s Office news release or indictment. But the indictment says Kimbrew told an undercover agent posing as the shop owners’ business partner that “he would not inform the congress member about [the marijuana shop] eliminating the possibility that the congress member would inform the FBI about [the marijuana shop’s] illegal activities.”

Kimbrew met the undercover agent at a Compton restaurant. The agent told him that he had hidden the $5,000 inside a menu. Kimbrew took the cash and put it in his pocket, the indictment says.

Kimbrew’s LinkedIn profile states he works in government relations and is currently a political consultant at Kimbrew Consulting. The profile page says he worked as a field representative for then-Congresswoman Hahn from December 2014 to February 2017.

Hahn is a supervisor for Los Angeles County’s 4th District and represented California’s 44th congressional district from 2011 to 2016.

Kimbrew faces up to 18 years in federal prison if convicted.

 

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