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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Former Campaign Aide Sentenced for Making a False Statement In Federal Investigation Involving 2010 Mayoral Campaign

Defendant Paid a Potential Witness to Leave Town During the Probe

     WASHINGTON – Vernon Hawkins, who worked on an off-the-books get-out-the-vote effort preceding the 2010 District of Columbia mayoral primary, was sentenced today to six months of incarceration after earlier pleading guilty to making a false statement to federal authorities who were investigating allegations involving his candidate’s campaign.

     The sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips, Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division, and Thomas Jankowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).

     Hawkins, 77, was a volunteer advisor for the mayoral candidate. He pled guilty on Aug. 13, 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In his plea, he admitted that he took part in a secret effort that channeled funding to his candidate. He also admitted that he later helped provide a potential witness with approximately $8,000 so that the witness would travel and stay out of town so that he would not be available to meet with federal agents investigating the campaign. Also, Hawkins admitted that, during a subsequent interview with the FBI, he stated that he did not know of anyone being asked or told to go out of town, that he never asked anyone to leave town so that they could not meet with investigators, and that he did not help or assist with sending anyone out of town so they would not be able to speak with federal agents in this investigation. He made these false statements in an attempt to influence the federal investigation.

     He was sentenced by the Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. Following his incarceration,  Hawkins will be placed on one year of supervised release.

     Hawkins is among 13 people who pled guilty to charges in a broader  investigation related to federal and local political campaigns, which uncovered evidence of over $3.3 million in illegal contributions to various campaigns between 2006 and 2011. He is among six defendants who pled guilty to offenses directly involving or connected to the 2010 District of Columbia mayoral election, which accounted for $668,800 of the illegal contributions.

     In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Phillips, Assistant Director in Charge Abbate and Special Agent in Charge Jankowski commended the work of those who investigated the case for the FBI and IRS-CI. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Chubin Epstein, Criminal Investigators Mark Crawford and Melissa Matthews, and Paralegal Specialists Tasha Harris and Corinne Kleinman. Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael K. Atkinson and Jonathan P. Hooks, who represented the government at sentencing.

Press Release Number: 
Updated May 10, 2016