Saturday, January 27, 2001
Faces Contempt Charge; Former D.C. Detective Falsified Letters,
by Bill Miller, Washington Post Staff Writer
Former D.C. police detective Johnny St. Valentine Brown Jr., who
guilty last year to perjury charges, was back in court yesterday
face allegations that he fabricated letters from supposed character
urging that he be given a lenient sentence.
Brown's attorney conceded that Brown wrote and signed the series of
letters last spring, but he argued that Brown believed he had
permission of the various people to submit them to the court. "Mr.
position is he was functioning under the belief they had been
defense attorney James Rudasil said.
"Mr. Brown wants his day in court," Rudasil said at yesterday's
"He wants to be able to testify and at least give his
about these letters."
Prosecutors countered that the letters weren't authorized and argued
Brown should be held in contempt of court at a trial scheduled to
Feb. 7. They dismissed Rudasil's suggestion that intermediaries
Brown the needed consent.
convicted, Brown could face up to 14 months in prison. That would be
addition to the two-year term he is serving for the perjury
which stemmed from Brown's lying under oath at trials about
credentials as a police drug expert.
Dressed in his orange prison garb, Brown provided no explanations
Brown, 58, who uses the nickname Jehru, first ran into trouble in July
when a lawyer in a civil case discovered that he had
his background. Brown routinely had claimed in court that
had a doctorate in pharmacology from Howard University and that he
a board-certified pharmacist. Both claims were false. Brown resigned
the police department and later pleaded guilty to eight counts of
The sentencing letters -- supposedly from community leaders, including
Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, the former D.C. delegate to Congress --
filled with admiration and respect for Brown, who testified at
of trials in a 29-year police career. One passage of the
purportedly from Fauntroy said Brown "deserves a lot of praise
all the good work he has done" because it "far outweighs any
The testimonials went to U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr., who
them at Brown's sentencing in June. At the time, Kennedy rejected
by prosecutors for a longer sentence and called Brown "a good man
did a terrible thing."
Soon after the sentencing, however, Kennedy contacted Fauntroy and
to thank them for their interest in Brown's case. Kennedy
acknowledges such correspondence. According to sources
with the case, Fauntroy stunned Kennedy by saying he had no
what the judge was talking about. In a recent interview, Faunt- roy
he had not authorized the letter and was troubled and amazed by
The judge alerted law enforcement authorities, triggering an FBI
FBI agents had their own suspicions about the
noting that the four letters were typewritten in the
The other letters supposedly had come from Robert S. Weiner, a
for the Office of National Drug Control Policy; William Lucy,
leader of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal
and Johnette Wilson, coordinator of Washington Hospital
youth mentoring program. They included strong attacks on the
investigation and warm tributes to Brown's work in law
Kennedy ordered Brown back to his courtroom this month to answer a
charge. The judge then decided to recuse himself from the case,
the matter was reassigned to Judge Thomas F. Hogan.
Yesterday, Brown waived his right to have a jury consider the charge
chose to let Hogan decide his fate. Hogan advised prosecutors to
Fauntroy, Weiner, Lucy and Wilson to court.