The Washington Post
Saturday, January 27, 2001

Ex-Officer Faces Contempt Charge; Former D.C. Detective Falsified Letters, Prosecutors Allege
by Bill Miller, Washington Post Staff Writer

 

  Former D.C. police detective Johnny St. Valentine Brown Jr., who

pleaded guilty last year to perjury charges, was back in court yesterday

to face allegations that he fabricated letters from supposed character

witnesses urging that he be given a lenient sentence.

 

  Brown's attorney conceded that Brown wrote and signed the series of

laudatory letters last spring, but he argued that Brown believed he had

the permission of the various people to submit them to the court. "Mr.

Brown's position is he was functioning under the belief they had been

authorized," defense attorney James Rudasil said.

 

  "Mr. Brown wants his day in court," Rudasil said at yesterday's

hearing. "He wants to be able to testify and at least give his

explanation about these letters."

 

  Prosecutors countered that the letters weren't authorized and argued

that Brown should be held in contempt of court at a trial scheduled to

begin Feb. 7. They dismissed Rudasil's suggestion that intermediaries

gave Brown the needed consent.

 

 If convicted, Brown could face up to 14 months in prison. That would be

in addition to the two-year term he is serving for the perjury

convictions, which stemmed from Brown's lying under oath at trials about

his credentials as a police drug expert.

 

  Dressed in his orange prison garb, Brown provided no explanations

yesterday.

   

  Brown, 58, who uses the nickname Jehru, first ran into trouble in July

1999, when a lawyer in a civil case discovered that he had

misrepresented his background. Brown routinely had claimed in court that

he had a doctorate in pharmacology from Howard University and that he

was a board-certified pharmacist. Both claims were false. Brown resigned

from the police department and later pleaded guilty to eight counts of

perjury.

 

  The sentencing letters -- supposedly from community leaders, including

the Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, the former D.C. delegate to Congress --

were filled with admiration and respect for Brown, who testified at

thousands of trials in a 29-year police career. One passage of the

letter purportedly from Fauntroy said Brown "deserves a lot of praise

for all the good work he has done" because it "far outweighs any harm."

 

  The testimonials went to U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr., who

cited them at Brown's sentencing in June. At the time, Kennedy rejected

bids by prosecutors for a longer sentence and called Brown "a good man

who did a terrible thing."

 

  Soon after the sentencing, however, Kennedy contacted Fauntroy and

others to thank them for their interest in Brown's case. Kennedy

frequently acknowledges such correspondence. According to sources

familiar with the case, Fauntroy stunned Kennedy by saying he had no

idea what the judge was talking about. In a recent interview, Faunt- roy

said he had not authorized the letter and was troubled and amazed by

Brown's actions.

 

  The judge alerted law enforcement authorities, triggering an FBI

investigation. FBI agents had their own suspicions about the

correspondence, noting that the four letters were typewritten in the

same single-spaced format.

 

  The other letters supposedly had come from Robert S. Weiner, a

spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy; William Lucy,

a leader of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal

Employees; and Johnette Wilson, coordinator of Washington Hospital

Center's youth mentoring program. They included strong attacks on the

perjury investigation and warm tributes to Brown's work in law

enforcement.

 

  Kennedy ordered Brown back to his courtroom this month to answer a

contempt charge. The judge then decided to recuse himself from the case,

and the matter was reassigned to Judge Thomas F. Hogan.

 

  Yesterday, Brown waived his right to have a jury consider the charge

and chose to let Hogan decide his fate. Hogan advised prosecutors to

bring Fauntroy, Weiner, Lucy and Wilson to court.