A decorated Navy fighter pilot, the subject of a CBS "60 Minutes" segment last year, filed a $5 million suit yesterday against a former naval commander who the pilot says slandered him on the television program.
Emory W. Brown Jr., 42, charged in his lawsuit filed in Alexandria Circuit Court that Robert D. Shupe, 47, a former Navy budget officer, maliciously injured his reputation and career by saying on the nationally televised program that he believed Brown was "dishonest."
The "60 Minutes" segment, which aired on March 18, 1984, related the story of how Brown, a distinguished Vietnam War pilot with 34 decorations, found himself in an administrative Navy job in Washington instead of flying F14s.
Brown was convicted in federal court in Norfolk of three conflict-of-interest charges and one of accepting a gratuity after he and his squadron flew in "The Final Countdown," a 1979 science fiction movie starring Kirk Douglas. Brown has appealed.
The Navy agreed to let Brown's squadron fly in the movie scenes provided there was no financial gain for the participants.
Shupe, the budget officer in charge of the movie project, said he told "60 Minutes" correspondent Harry Reasoner that Brown personally pocketed money after flying extra hours for the film crews, according to court papers. The papers said Reasoner asked Shupe if he came "to the conclusion that Emory Brown was a crook" after the producers paid Brown $5,563.48 for his expenses incurred in the filming.
"I think he was, uh, dishonest," Shupe replied.
Shupe said yesterday he was "shocked" that a suit had been filed. "He's a convicted felon," he said. "All I said was that he was dishonest."
Brown could not be reached for comment yesterday but pointed out in his lawsuit that the Navy Board of Inquiry proclaimed him innocent in the matter in 1983.