Brown had six run-ins with law enforcement before landing D.C. job

March 14, 2011

Former D.C. mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown had had six run-ins with law enforcement, including three charges in the District and an attempted-murder charge in Chicago, at the time he received a $110,000-a-year job in the administration of D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, said city officials and sources close to Gray.

The administration knew of the three D.C. charges — in addition to a protective order and one conviction in the District for unlawful entry — before offering Brown the job as an analyst at the Department of Health Care Finance.

Gray transition officials did not discover the 1988 attempted-murder charge in Chicago, for which Brown was acquitted, or a 2008 arrest on suspicion of assault in East Orange, N.J., for which he was not indicted, said a source close to Gray’s transition team who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Officials with the health-care agency told Brown on Jan. 26 — five days before he began work — that they wanted to perform a background check, according to e-mails obtained by The Washington Post.

Brown told the officials there was no need. He directed them to Gerri Mason Hall, the mayor’s chief of staff, who he said would vouch for him. “Please contact Gerri Mason Hall, as it relates to that,” Brown wrote in one of the e-mails. “Her office has already done a complete background check on me. I was placed with you by her office.”

Hall declined to comment Monday.

WUSA (Channel 9) reported Sunday that Gray’s transition team learned of the Chicago and New Jersey charges, which were mentioned in a “confidential” report dated March 9, two weeks after Brown was fired by the District.

Brown has said that his record did not prevent him from getting the position with the Gray administration, and he got a job in 2005 as a special police officer at the University of the District of Columbia.

Brown’s background is under scrutiny in the wake of his allegations that Gray promised him the city job in return for criticizing then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty during last year’s Democratic primary.

Brown also says that Gray’s campaign chief, Lorraine Green, and campaign consultant Howard Brooks gave Brown payments that allowed him to keep his campaign afloat. The Post did not independently verify any payments. Gray, Green and Brooks have denied the allegations, which the U.S. attorney’s office said were being “assessed.”

About two weeks ago, Gray (D) spoke at a news conference at which reporters asked about Brown’s six-figure job. “I see it as somebody who applied for the job and was qualified for the job and was hired,” Gray said. “We believe he has the skills and the qualifications to do the job.”

Brown was fired the next day.

After Brown leveled his accusations at Gray and his aides this month, Gray retained lawyer Robert S. Bennett and said in an interview with The Post that he had promised Brown only a job interview, not a job. He denied knowing about any payments to Brown.

Brown, who met with the FBI about his allegations last week, accused Gray supporters of leaking information to discredit him. Gray has said that a criminal record would not prevent a person from getting a job in his administration, but he ordered more vetting of current and future employees.

Brown’s legal troubles appeared to have begun in Chicago in 1988 when he was 18. “I don’t have any comment on Chicago,” Brown, 40, said in an interview last week.

The Post, in reviewing D.C. court records from 1995, found a reference to a charge of aggravated battery in Illinois. The Cook County clerk’s office verified that Brown had been charged with aggravated battery and attempted murder in 1988. He was acquitted the next year. The Post was awaiting more information about the case from the clerk’s office.

The other charge missed by Gray’s transition team was the most recent, stemming from an incident in 2008 at a rooming house in East Orange, N.J., where Brown lived. A high school dropout, Brown earned a GED and a degree from the University of the District of Columbia in business administration and accounting. According to the resume Brown submitted for his D.C. job, he worked in accounting at Patrizio & Zhao in Parsippany, N.J.

On Sept. 29, 2008, Brown was arrested on suspicion of assault by East Orange police, Sgt. Andrew DiElmo said.

DiElmo said Brown was living in a rooming house when he “got into an altercation with one of the other residents.”

“He allegedly produced some kind of cutting tool and struck the other resident,” DiElmo said. “The tool was never found.”

Brown was not indicted. He did not respond to requests for comment on the New Jersey incident.

His only conviction was for unlawful entry in the District in 1995.

According to a May 1995 police report, Brown trespassed on Howard University property and was “demanding his brother’s property.” He “became loud and boisterous and was told to leave and refused.”

Brown said the police report doesn’t tell the full story. He said that he and one of his brothers and his brother’s girlfriend went to the campus “lost and found” to retrieve her book bag when officers told him, “You’re the guy who got barred from the campus.” Brown said he had never been barred; the report says he had been barred but does not say why.

Brown’s other scrapes with the law include a 1991 gun charge that was dismissed, a 2002 simple assault and second-degree theft charge that was dismissed, and a 2007 protective order that was never served.

The 2002 case stemmed from a confrontation at Discount Auto Sound on Georgia Avenue. According to a Superior Court record, Brown allegedly assaulted and threatened two people in a “menacing manner” and took $25.

The charges were dismissed. Brown said a fight occurred after a store worker said Brown had “disrespected” his girlfriend, who was working behind the counter, by shoving money in her hand. “We got into a brawl. It was a brawl,” Brown said. “I got cut with a razor.”

After that incident, Brown got a job as a campus police officer at UDC in 2005. He went to work later that year at Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & Associates, according to an employment history that the Gray administration says it verified.

Wanda Battle filed a protective order against him in February 2007 for what she told ABC7 last week was “inappropriate” contact with her daughter, who was then 13.

Battle said Brown had taken her daughter to a Fuddruckers restaurant and asked to be her godfather. There was no sexual inappropriateness with Brown, who had worked as a security guard in the apartment complex where they lived, Battle told the news station.

Brown said that he did not know when he moved out of the city but that he was not in the District at the time Battle said the incident occurred. By March 2007, he was working at Thompson and Company, a firm in Brooklyn, a manager there confirmed.

Brown has denied contact with the teenager and knowing about the order. “My story is the same. Like I was telling you, I wasn’t even here,” he said last week. “It’s not true.”

Brown was not served with the protective order because authorities could not find him.

Brown worked at four auditing and accounting firms between 2005 and 2008 in the District, New York and New Jersey, according to his resume. The Post reached four of the five firms and confirmed that Brown had worked there for short periods. All declined to disclose additional information.

Brown said his brief tenures at the firms were not unusual. “It’s not skipping around,” he said. “It was gaining experience. It was the best way to get different skill sets.”

Brown left his last accounting job in 2008 and headed back to the District.

“I came back to D.C. to run for mayor. I wanted to establish residency,” he said.

In January, Brown interviewed with the Office of the Inspector General for an auditor’s position, but it had been filled.

The Gray administration, according to e-mails, worked with him to find a job in the Department of Health Care Finance.

Staff writer Mike DeBonis and researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

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