A former congressional staffer was arrested Wednesday on federal extortion and bribery charges after allegedly taking $5,000 with promises of helping to prevent the closure of a marijuana dispensary in Compton.
Michael Kimbrew, 44, of Carson, was arrested without incident by special agents with the FBI. He pleaded not guilty, and a Los Angeles federal court judge scheduled trial for Sept. 26, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Kimbrew was a field representative for then-Rep. Janice Hahn from December 2014 to this past February, making $34,667 a year, according to a staff directory.
Hahn — now a county supervisor — expressed surprise at the allegations.
“I’ve always trusted my employees to have the same sense of public service that I do,” she said in a prepared statement. “If these charges are true, Mr. Kimbrew abused his power as a representative of my office and violated both my trust and the trust of the public.”
Kimbrew is charged in a federal grand jury indictment returned July 21 with one count each of attempted extortion and receiving a bribe, charges which together carry a possible maximum sentence of 18 years in federal prison upon conviction.
According to the indictment, Kimbrew approached an employee of the marijuana business, told him the store was violating the law, and said the shop would be shut down — unless the owners reached an agreement with him.
Kimbrew subsequently met with the dispensary’s owners inside Compton City Hall, according to the indictment, which alleges that Kimbrew claimed to be working with the FBI and could “make things happen” by ensuring the proprietors had the appropriate permits in exchange for $5,000.
According to the indictment, an undercover FBI agent posing as a business partner met with Kimbrew, who reiterated his claims that he could prevent the shutdown of the shop in exchange for $5,000. In a second meeting between Kimbrew and the undercover agent, Kimbrew allegedly accepted the $5,000 bribe.
–City News Service
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