Developer Conviction

A federal judge threw out the conviction of a developer accused of bilking Cincinnati out of 184-thousand dollars.

US District Judge Sandra Beckwith threw out the conviction of LaShawn Pettus-Brown yesterday. The former Cincinnati resident was convicted in November of three counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. He was accused of using city money on personal expenses instead of rebuilding the 90-year-old Empire Theatre. Beckwith said prosecutors proved Pettus-Brown defrauded the city but failed to show that the fraud violated federal laws against wire fraud and money laundering. Federal law requires prosecutors to prove that transfers were part of the fraud, not just a way of spending profits of fraud. Defense attorney Kelly Johnson says his client was very happy about the decision.

Prosecutors say they may appeal. Beckwith ordered Pettus-Brown to be released immediately from a Kentucky jail. He has been held there for nearly a year.