Developer appears in court on 9-year-old charges

Lashawn Pettus Brown
Lashawn Pettus Brown

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A former Avondale developer who fled finally appeared in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court on Thursday on 9-year-old aggravated theft and other charges relating to the former Empire Theater in Over-the-Rhine.

A Hamilton County grand jury in 2005 indicted Lashawn Pettus Brown, 37, on two counts of aggravated theft, three counts of tampering with records, one count of forgery and one count of unauthorized use of property.

Authorities say Brown received $184,172.40 from the city of Cincinnati to renovate the theater located at 1521 Vine St. The money was in the form of vouchers for work completed on the project. The money was guaranteed with financing from PNC Bank.

Brown gave the city false bank papers showing the line of credit, according to court documents. Authorities say the credit line was never issued and the majority of money Brown received was never used on the project.  Brown abandoned it and fled the state.

A trial was conducted without Brown present in 2005. A jury convicted him on seven counts, including aggravated theft and forgery. Judge Ethna Cooper sentenced him to four years in prison and ordered him to pay $184,000 in restitution.

Cooper continued Thursday's hearing until Jan. 30 when he scheduled to be sentenced.

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