A former congressional staffer was sentenced Monday to 18 months behind bars for taking $5,000 with bogus promises of helping to prevent the closure of an illegal Compton marijuana dispensary.

Michael Kimbrew, 45, of Santa Clarita was sentenced by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who additionally ordered the defendant to serve three years of supervised release and pay $5,000 in restitution and $4,000 in fines.

In exchange for the payoff he took, 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 federal prosecutors.

During a two-day trial in March, jurors watched a video recording of Kimbrew meeting with an undercover FBI agent and discussing the $5,000 bribe, which the agent had hidden in a restaurant menu and passed to the defendant during a second meeting.

Kimbrew was working as an aide to then-Rep. Janice Hahn out of Compton City Hall when he first approached the owners of Green Legends, a now-defunct illegal pot dispensary on Long Beach Boulevard.

Claiming to “oversee all activities in Compton,” Kimbrew threatened the pot 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, according to trial testimony.

He claimed that, by virtue of his federal employment, 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.

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.”

During the trial, the defense unsuccessfully argued that Kimbrew only took the cash when the undercover agent insisted the money was in exchange for introductions to other dispensary owners and to ensure a good relationship.

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