For­mer Hahn aide ar­rested

Ex-staffer is ac­cused of try­ing to shake down a Comp­ton pot shop fac­ing clo­sure by city.

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By Alene Tchekm­e­dyian alene.tchekm­e­dyian@la­times.com Twitter: @AleneTchek

A for­mer con­gres­sional aide was ar­rested Wed­nes­day on sus­pi­cion of tak­ing a bribe from a Comp­ton mar­i­juana shop, fed­eral of­fi­cials said.

Michael Kim­brew, 44, was work­ing as a field rep­re­sen­ta­tive for for­mer Rep. Jan­ice Hahn out of Comp­ton City Hall when he al­legedly promised to “make things hap­pen” for the pot shop, which the city was seek­ing to shut down.

Kim­brew pleaded not guilty to one count each of at­tempted ex­tor­tion and re­ceiv­ing a bribe. He was or­dered freed on a $15,000 bond.

Nei­ther Kim­brew nor his at­tor­ney was im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment. Au­thor­i­ties have not named the shop in­volved.

Ac­cord­ing to au­thor­i­ties, in March 2015, Kim­brew ap­proached the dis­pen­sary and claimed he was work­ing with the FBI to make sure mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries were fil­ing ap­pro­pri­ate per­mits. Comp­ton of­fi­cials had sent the shop a cease-and­de­sist let­ter, fed­eral of­fi­cials said, though it’s un­clear whether Kim­brew knew about it, and if so, how.

He made the shop an of­fer, au­thor­i­ties said: If the own­ers reached “an agree­ment” with him, he could help them gain com­pli­ance. If not, the shop would be shut down.

In the weeks that fol­lowed, Kim­brew held sep­a­rate meet­ings with the shop own­ers and a fed­eral agent pos­ing as their busi­ness part­ner in­side an of­fice at Comp­ton City Hall, where Hahn rented space for a district of­fice.

Ac­cord­ing to the fed­eral grand jury in­dict­ment, Kim­brew told the shop own­ers he could “make things hap­pen,” but it would come at a cost.

In ex­change for $5,000, he said, he wouldn’t send fed­eral au­thor­i­ties to close the shop and would help the own­ers ob­tain per­mits to keep op­er­at­ing, court records said.

In May of that year, Kim­brew met with the un­der­cover FBI agent at a restau­rant in Comp­ton.

At the meet­ing, ac­cord­ing to court records, the agent slid $5,000 in cash in­side a menu and passed it to Kim­brew, who stuffed the money in­side his pocket.

If con­victed, Kim­brew faces a max­i­mum of 18 years in fed­eral pri­son.

On his LinkedIn pro­file, Kim­brew in­di­cated he was a field rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Hahn from De­cem­ber 2014 to Fe­bru­ary 2017. But Hahn’s spokes­woman said he worked for the for­mer con­gress­woman for about a year be­fore he was let go in early 2016.

Kim­brew is the son of a for­mer Comp­ton Uni­fied School District board mem­ber, Basil Kim­brew, who has a his­tory of pub­lic cor­rup­tion.

In 2005, the el­der Kim­brew was con­victed of mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing funds for charg­ing nearly $2,000 on his school board credit card to pay for a pri­vate party af­ter he was forced to step down from the board.

In 2002, Basil Kim­brew pleaded no con­test to ly­ing that he lived in Comp­ton when he filed to run for mayor there.

Sev­eral years be­fore that, he tes­ti­fied in fed­eral court that he ac­cepted bribes on be­half of for­mer City Coun­cil­woman Pa­tri­cia Moore. He said he didn’t know the pay­ments were bribes. He was never charged in the case.

Hahn, now a Los Angeles County su­per­vi­sor, said in a state­ment that the al­le­ga­tions amounted to an abuse of Michael Kim­brew’s power.

“I’ve al­ways trusted my em­ploy­ees to have the same sense of pub­lic ser­vice that I do,” she said. “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.”

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