Three years after allegedly taking a $5,000 bribe from the owners of a Compton marijuana store, a former field representative for Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn during her years in Congress was scheduled to go on trial week on federal charges.
Michael Kimbrew, 44, of Carson, was working as an aide to then-Congresswoman Hahn out of Compton City Hall when he allegedly threatened the pot shop’s owners — and later, an undercover FBI agent in recorded conversations — that the store would be shut down unless he were paid, according to the government’s trial memo filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Kimbrew claimed he was working with the FBI to make sure local medical marijuana dispensaries were filling out the appropriate forms to receive required permits, according to court papers.
A few months later, during a recorded meeting, Kimbrew accepted $5,000 in cash, which the undercover agent had hidden in a restaurant menu and passed to the defendant, prosecutors allege. Kimbrew pleaded not guilty to one federal count each of attempted extortion and bribery of a public official.
The defendant’s attorney contends that Kimbrew cannot be convicted since the undercover agent “could not reasonably have believed” Kimbrew’s alleged claim that he had the power to keep the shop open.
If convicted as charged, Kimbrew would face up to 18 years in federal prison.