Cincy Developer Back In Jail

Update: LaShawn Pettus-Brown, a Cincinnati man who was commissioned to rebuild one of the city’s music theatres, is back in the slammer. The would-be developer recently was let go on a technicality after a money laundering and wire-fraud conviction.

Pettus-Brown was brought up on a state charge of felony theft by deception January 20th, and turned himself in that evening, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Two days earlier, his conviction in U.S. District Court was overturned after he spent about a year in jail.

The former high school basketball star was provided more than $180,000 in city funds to rebuild the Empire Theatre as part of a project to redevelop the Over-The-Rhine suburb. Instead, Pettus-Brown and the money disappeared; he was located a while later in Long Island, N.Y.

Although U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith said Pettus-Brown was mostly likely guilty of defrauding the city, she overturned his conviction, ruling the prosecution did not prove its case.

The charges of money laundering and wire fraud would only be part of a crime if it was ultimately part of a fraud; Beckwith ruled the crime was “complete” by the time Pettus-Brown transferred the cash to his accounts.

Soon after the ruling, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters began talking with the police department and U.S. District Attorney Greg Lockhart, the Enquirer said. Pettus-Brown was charged under state law the next day and arrested.

“The charges are not unexpected,” defense attorney Kelly Johnson told the paper. “But I’m disappointed they have decided to charge him.”

The developer had no comment.