News Column

LA Prosecutor Wants Brown to Redo His Community Service

Feb 6, 2013

Reed Williams

The Richmond Police Department's accounting of R&B singer Chris Brown's court-ordered community labor hours is inconsistent and unreliable, according to a prosecutor in Los Angeles County who wants him to redo his community service work.

In a motion filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the prosecutor argued that the court should not accept the community service records and should order Brown to start over and perform the court-ordered 180 days of labor in Los Angeles County. Brown was allowed to perform the labor in Virginia as part of his punishment for attacking the singer Rihanna.

In a 2009 letter to the judge in the case, Richmond Police Chief Bryan T. Norwood said Brown's community service would "be performed under the supervision of myself and those under my command," and that the Richmond Police Department would document his hours worked. Norwood said the duties would include manual labor tasks, such as graffiti removal, trash pickup and car washing.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Mary A. Murray argued in a motion filed Tuesday that in some cases, Richmond police credited Brown for performing work he could not have completed because he was not in Richmond at the time.

According to Murray, Richmond police reported that on Oct. 23, 2010, Brown worked eight hours in downtown Richmond, when he actually was hosting a charity event in Washington.

And on March 15, 2012, Richmond police reported that Brown picked up trash until 6 p.m. in Richmond, but Murray said Brown had boarded a private jet before 4 p.m. that day for Cancun, Mexico.

Murray also cast doubt on claims that the Brown had completed more than 500 hours of community labor at the Tappahannock Children's Center, where Brown's mother used to work.

"After a thorough review of all documents and evidence submitted to the court, it appears there are significant discrepancies indicating at best sloppy documentation, and at worst, fraudulent reporting," Murray wrote to the court.

When asked about the Brown situation, Richmond police spokesman Gene Lepley said the department would not comment. "It would be inappropriate to comment on a matter before the court," Lepley said in an email.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Brown's attorney, Mark Geragos, defended his client and Norwood, saying Murray's motion was defamatory and was made in bad faith. He called her court document "barnyard excrement."

"I will seek sanctions against the DA's office," he said. "This is absolute and utter trash."

Brown is on supervised probation and has a probation hearing set for today.

He pleaded guilty in June 2009 to one felony count of assault of Rihanna and was ordered to perform 180 days of community labor and complete a 52-week batterer's intervention program.

In her motion, Murray said the Richmond Police Department oversaw Brown's community labor because Brown had known Richmond's former police chief, Rodney Monroe, and that Brown had done charity work with the department.

Murray also noted that in November 2011, Norwood said in a letter to the court that Brown had "performed 103 days of community labor in the Richmond area." Then, in September 2012, Norwood stated that as of Aug. 24, 2012, Brown had completed 202 days of supervised labor in the Richmond area.

Murray said completion of 202 days of service work at eight hours a day would have been equal to 1,616 hours of labor. But a spreadsheet compiled by the Richmond police "claims a total of only 1,402 hours and 162 actual days of community labor," Murray wrote.

The alleged discrepancies prompted Los Angeles County prosecution investigators to visit the Richmond Police Department on Nov. 6 and ask to speak with Norwood.

Victoria Pearson Benjamin, general counsel for the Richmond Police Department, "indicated Chief Norwood was unavailable" and helped set up interviews for the Los Angeles investigators with other Richmond police officials, including Deputy Chief John Buturla and Maj. Michael Shamus, according to Murray.

Benjamin told investigators that she, not Norwood, had composed the letters to the court and had submitted them to Norwood to sign. Benjamin also said she had prepared the spreadsheet documenting the work completed by Brown. But she had "no personal knowledge of the scheduling, dates, hours, location or supervision of work completed," Murray wrote in her court filing.

The spreadsheet, which was presented to the court last September, was compiled using information from Richmond Deputy Police Chief Eric English, Murray wrote, adding that no documents were available to support the information received from English.

Murray wrote that English was said to be responsible for oversight of Brown's community labor, and that he was unavailable to be interviewed by investigators.

Murray also lists incidents that she characterizes as potential probation violations by Brown. She wrote that Brown was involved in a fight Jan. 27 at a recording studio in West Hollywood, Calif., in which Brown allegedly punched another musician, Frank Ocean, after an argument over a parking space, according to Murray's motion.

Murray also wrote that Brown has tested positive for marijuana, took a phone from a fan who was trying to photograph him, and got angry after he was asked in a TV interview about his assault on Rihanna and threw a chair through a glass window.

Source: (c)2013 the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters