LOS ANGELES – A former staffer for a Member of the United States Congress was found guilty today of 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, 44, of Carson, was convicted by a federal jury of two felony counts related to his shakedown of the shop in March through May 2015.
The evidence presented during the three-day trial in United States District Court showed that Kimbrew attempted to extort a marijuana dispensary in Compton, threatening to shut down the shop if the owners did not pay him a $5,000 bribe. In exchange for the payoff, Kimbrew also promised to help the shop obtain a lucrative permit to continue operating.
According to the defendant’s statements, 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 money. 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.
After approximately four hours of deliberation, the jury convicted Kimbrew of bribery and attempted extortion.
United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner is scheduled to sentence Kimbrew on June 4, at which time he will face a statutory maximum penalty of 18 years in federal prison.
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.
Component(s): USAO – California, Central
Contact: Thom Mrozek Spokesperson/Public Affairs Officer United States Attorney’s Office Central District of California (Los Angeles) 213-894-6947
Press Release Number: 18-032 Updated March 2, 2018
Central District of California DOJ / 18-032 / March 2, 2018