Walter E. Fauntroy, the former District delegate to Congress and civil rights legend who left Washington in 2012 for the Persian Gulf — leaving his aging wife in debt and eluding a criminal charge in Maryland — vowed in his first interview in four years that he is coming home next week.
“I have my ticket. I have my passport. Without question, it’s over,” Fauntroy said in a phone call with The Washington Post from the United Arab Emirates. “I’m coming home.”
Fauntroy, 83, said he has been living rent-free for the past three months in Ajman, just north of Dubai, in the guest room of an apartment occupied by a South Sudanese couple and their son. He said that at some point in recent weeks, the State Department somehow located him at his host’s apartment and left messages for him to call. Fauntroy did, and eventually, he said, two U.S. officials visited to offer him help to fly home.
“They said, ‘We’ve been asked to see if we can help you get home.’ I said, ‘Thank you.’ It was an answer to prayer,” Fauntroy said. “I want to come home. It’s blistering hot, and I’ll be happy to come home for that reason, but also so I can see my wife, my son, my daughter and my new grandson. ‘New’ for me, because it’s been two years since he’s been born.”
On Wednesday, a State Department official confirmed that the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi has been providing assistance to Fauntroy. A consular officer, the official said, last visited Fauntroy at “a private residence” on June 8. The official declined to offer more details.
E. Faye Williams, the president/chief executive of the National Congress of Black Women, said that a group of Fauntroy family friends pitched in money to pay for his flight home next week on Emirates airline. Fearing a crush of reporters at Dulles International Airport, Fauntroy asked The Post not to give the date of his arrival.
Johnny Barnes, Fauntroy’s attorney, declined to comment.
For a long time, no one could pinpoint the location of Fauntroy, a retired pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church who helped the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. plan the 1963 March on Washington. A 2015 photo of a gaunt, frail-looking Fauntroy taken by someone in the UAE worried friends. And when Fauntroy emailed former colleagues, he used the alias “Shahid Sarkar” and talked of conspiracies and of spies blocking his emails.
Over the course of several phone calls this week, Fauntroy spoke frequently of “rogue elements” within intelligence agencies in the United States and abroad and of others working against him. He was defiant over criticism of his leaving his wife, Dorothy, nearly 82, and failing to remain in the United States to face numerous legal problems.
In January 2012, a bench warrant was issued for him to appear in Prince George’s County, Md., to answer charges of writing a bad check for $55,000 to help pay for a 2009 ball he organized for President Obama’s first inauguration. And in spring 2014, the Bank of New York Mellon filed for foreclosure on the couple’s Northwest Washington home, citing outstanding payments totalling more than $146,000. (The Fauntroys filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2014, but their case was dismissed after he failed to get credit counseling.)
Fauntroy, who said he has been working on plans to build emissions-free power plants around the world for poverty-stricken countries, said his wife has always been supportive.
“She knew my heart was in this work. She’s been through every crisis with me, from those in Birmingham and Selma to Mississippi, where I was threatened with death if I continued to do what I tried to do,” he said, referring to his activism during the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
He dismissed the criminal charge against him and his mounting debts as part of a conspiracy to undermine his reputation.
“That whole effort was a determined effort to discredit me as I moved around the world to organize people. You read the news on the Internet that ‘nobody knows where he is’ and ‘when he comes home, he’s going to be arrested’? Well, see if I get arrested. It is disinformation which you can dispense easily when you control the media.”
When pressed on whether he paid the $55,000 he owed for the 2009 inauguration ball he planned, Fauntroy insisted that the issue was “resolved” and pointed to shadowy powers orchestrating his downfall.
“The charge is a false flag. . . . That is a tactic of intelligence institutions, the KGB, the CIA,” Fauntroy said.
Art Reynolds, his attorney in the bad-check case, said Fauntroy has paid “some” of the $55,000 but that the criminal charge remains active.
“They may pick him up when he comes into the country. When he clears customs, the warrant is going to pop up in the computers,” Reynolds said. “I’d like for him to make some arrangements and contact me before he comes into the country. I’d like to try and have the bench warrant recalled by the court based on Walter’s promise to immediately present himself to the court.”
Fauntroy told The Post that once he lands, he immediately wants to spend time with his wife at their Crestwood home, where his son Marvin, daughter Melissa Alice, and her son live. He also wants to reconnect with his four brothers and his sister.
Messages left for Dorothy and Marvin Fauntroy received no response. Melissa Alice hung up when a reporter called. In previous interviews with The Post, Dorothy Fauntroy has pledged her support for her husband, saying she has trusted him as he pursues humanitarian projects around the world.
Fauntroy said that while in the UAE, he lived for a time with a Syrian family that provided him food.
“They were remarkable. I had nothing, because all my money had been cut off. The family did it as long as they could until pressures were put on them to stop, so I had to leave,” Fauntroy said. “So, I slept in alleys, and I would sit up on chairs that I borrowed from stores. The rats, the mice, cockroaches didn’t climb on chairs to harass me.”
He said that when the South Sudanese family invited him to stay with them a few months ago, he tried not to impose too much.
“I don’t know how much I’ve cost them. I’m not a big fella. It was like having another child at the table — I’m not a big eater.”
Fauntroy insisted that he was healthy but also said that in the first years of his “odyssey,” he passed out several times — incidents he called “life-threatening.”
“I have a lower tolerance for heat,” he said. “On four occasions since I’ve been here, I’ve been in 140-degree temperatures and passed out and was taken to the hospital and revived without damage to my brain and body. It’s a miracle, quite frankly. Only God could do that.”
Day to day, Fauntroy said, he has spent most of his time visiting Internet cafes, reading Scripture and working on his plans to establish green-energy power plants and devices around the world to give poor people access to clean water and energy.
But he said he often felt that he was being tracked by intelligence operatives who were impeding his ability to communicate frequently with his family and friends. He said “international intelligence experts” from Britain who are members of a group called the “White Hats” urged him to be cautious with his phone calls and emails.
He said he feels comfortable leaving the UAE now because he has assurances from a Wyoming-based limited liability company called Sceptre Trust Fund that he will receive $50 million a year for 10 years “to organize people of goodwill, of every race, creed and color” to fund his green-energy humanitarian project and help “780 million poor families.”
“I just have to leave it at that,” Fauntroy said.
Sceptre trustee Alan D’Arcy did not respond to messages seeking comment. In a previous interview, D’Arcy said he did not know or remember Fauntroy and had had contact with him only through a middleman. He said they had never agreed to any financial deal.
For now, Fauntroy said he feels grateful — and eager — to return to Washington.
“I want to say this carefully,” he said. “Once I get back, I want to open up on everything.”