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In the District, even the most dim-witted crime doesn’t necessarily end in disaster. Consider Tony Cheng, the Chinatown restaurant owner and Wilson Building fundraiser whose inept dealings with the D.C. Taxicab Commission will only cost him two years of probation, according to a sentence handed down yesterday.

Last spring, Cheng pleaded guilty to offering to cut former D.C. Taxicab Commission Leon Swain in on profits from a potential towing operation in exchange for the commission’s business.

Unbeknownst to Cheng, Swain was working undercover for the FBI—-something that shouldn’t have been much of a surprise to Cheng, since Swain’s participation in another bribery sting had already been well-publicized by the time Cheng made the offer. Cheng and Swain initially began talking as part of Swain’s effort to convince Cheng to reach out to the Vince Gray transition team and help him keep his job, Cheng attorney Jon W. Norris said in court.

The indictments against the Chengs in June 2013 suggested the possibility of a larger investigation if Cheng cooperated with authorities, given prosecution evidence that showed Cheng talking about local politicians on video. The investigation into the Chengs, for example, included a recording of the elder Cheng talking about how much money he raised for Gray’s 2010 election campaign. In the end, though, Cheng attorney Kenneth M. Robinson says Cheng didn’t know about any wrongdoing.

Cheng’s son, Anthony Cheng Jr., also received two years probation and two months of house arrest for offering $250 to an FBI agent posing as a Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs employee in exchange for help setting up some taxi companies.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery