Mark Long (right) with Vince Gray in 2010
Mark Long (right) with Vince Gray in 2010

During the 2010 mayoral campaign, Mark Long drove hopeful Vince Gray in a Lincoln Navigator to campaign stops and at least one trip to McDonald’s. Both Long’s driving and the car were illegally funded by Jeff Thompson, the city contractor who illicitly poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into electing Gray.

Now Thompson faces a sentence of just six months under house arrest, while Long could spend as many as five years in prison.

Echoing a complaint that could be seen more this year as Thompson’s other associates get closer to trial, Long compares his own potential sentence for conspiracy with Thompson’s own more favorable plea deal. Why, Long’s attorney asks in court papers, should a “a low level pawn” do far more time than the “kingpin”?

On March 2, Long filed papers trying to back out of his September 2014 guilty plea for his role in covering up Thompson’s aid to Gray. Long claims that he signed the original plea “under duress,” pressured by prosecutors who purportedly told him he had lied in interviews with prosecutors.

In court papers, Long attorney Charles Wagner portrays Long as just another employee of Thompson crony Eugenia Clarke Harris, who used her companies to cover up Thompson’s contributions. Wagner claims that Thompson hired nearly another dozen drivers for Gray’s campaign, none of whom were charged by prosecutors.

“Mr. Long merely collected his salary and hoped for continued employment,” Wagner writes.

On the other hand, those other drivers probably didn’t drive Gray to alleged meetings with other mayoral candidates or double as bagmen in union deals. Prosecutors oppose Long’s attempt to withdraw his plea, which will be discussed at a D.C. Superior Court hearing Friday.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery