LOS ANGELES – A former staffer for a member of the United States Congress was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for bribery and attempted extortion after demanding and accepting $5,000 to prevent the closure of a marijuana shop in the city of Compton.
Michael Kimbrew, 45, of Santa Clarita, was sentenced by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner for attempting to extort a marijuana dispensary in Compton and threatening to shut down the shop if the owners did not pay him a $5,000 bribe.
According to court testimony, in exchange for the payoff, Kimbrew promised to wield his power as a federal employee and public official to help the shop obtain a lucrative permit to continue operating.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Kimbrew claimed to “oversee all activities in Compton” and threatened the shop’s owners, an employee of the shop, and later an undercover FBI agent in recorded meetings that he was going to shut down the shop unless he received the bribe. He claimed that, by virtue of his federal employment for the Congress member, he had “authority” and “jurisdiction” over what Compton public officials and departments did. In exchange for the $5,000, he promised to exercise that authority and jurisdiction to keep the shop in business.
Ultimately, during a lunch meeting in Compton, Kimbrew accepted $5,000 in cash hidden inside of a restaurant menu from the undercover agent. When he pocketed the cash, Kimbrew pledged his “undying support” to protect the shop.
“The conviction in this case demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the people of the District to root out public corruption,” said United States Attorney Nicola T. Hanna.
In sentencing documents, the government argued for imprisonment, citing, among other factors “the need to send a message to both [Kimbrew] and other public servants that corruption will not be tolerated.”
In addition to the prison term, Judge Klausner ordered Kimbrew to serve three years of supervised release and pay $5,000 in restitution and $4,000 in fines.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lindsey Greer Dotson of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.