Former congressional staffer accused of extorting marijuana shop

FBI agents arrested a former staffer for a member of the United States Congress Wednesday on federal extortion and bribery charges after he allegedly took $5,000 with promises of helping to prevent the closure of a Compton marijuana shop.

At his arraignment this afternoon, Michael Kimbrew, 44, pleaded not guilty to one count of attempted extortion and one count of receiving a bribe. He was released on $15,000 bail.

According to the indictment, Kimbrew approached an employee of the marijuana shop, told him the store was violating the law, and said the shop would be shut down – unless the owners reached an agreement with him.

Shortly afterwards, Kimbrew met with the owners of the marijuana shop inside Compton City Hall. Kimbrew claimed to be working with the FBI, and said he could “make things happen” by ensuring the store had the appropriate permits in exchange for $5,000, according to the indictment.

An undercover FBI agent who was posing as a partner in the marijuana shop met with Kimbrew, who again said he could prevent the shutdown of the shop in exchange for $5,000. In a second meeting, Kimbrew allegedly accepted the $5,000 bribe.

If convicted of the two counts in the indictment, Kimbrew faces a statutory maximum sentence of 18 years in federal prison.