INDEPENDENCE — Jason Brown, the former Independence Community College football coach, is facing eight felony counts for allegedly stealing the identity of a lawyer in an attempt to silence local newspapers.
Brown, who gained notoriety for being featured on the Netflix documentary series “Last Chance U,” is charged with four counts of blackmail, four counts of identity theft, all felonies, as well as two counts of criminal false communication, both misdemeanors. The Montgomery County Attorney’s Office filed charges Friday.
According to a story published by the Montgomery County Chronicle, one of the two newspapers allegedly victimized by Brown, the case against Brown results from an investigation into emails sent to the Chronicle as well as the Independence Daily Reporter.
In October 2018, Brown allegedly sent a cease-and-desist email to the Chronicle shortly after the paper published an editorial regarding a fight between the Independence and Garden City football teams. Brown allegedly posed as an attorney in the Cochran Law Firm in California, which was founded by Johnnie Cochran.
In February, the Chronicle received another set of communications purportedly from the attorney regarding the paper’s investigation into Brown’s treatment of a German football player.
The Chronicle reported that Brown texted the German player, “I am your new Hitler,” which eventually led to Brown’s resignation from the college.
Similar correspondence purportedly from the Cochran firm was sent to the Reporter as well as a former Independence assistant coach.
The Chronicle questioned the authenticity of those emails in February. The weekly newspaper turned the emails over the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department for investigation.
“Whenever citizens suspect a crime has been undertaken against them, they have the right and responsibility to alert law enforcement to the situation,” said Montgomery County Chronicle publisher Andy Taylor in a statement to the Sun. “That is exactly what the Montgomery County Chronicle did. After a series of threatening emails from a person claiming to an attorney representing Jason Brown were sent to the Chronicle, we turned over the communications to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department for further investigation. Now that the investigation has concluded and the charges have been filed, we believe dishonest practices will be exposed . . . and truth and integrity will prevail.”
The charges against Brown, according to the Chronicle, allege that he initiated email communication with the newspapers by impersonating the attorney through a Yahoo! email address that had a similar domain name to the law firm’s. The emails in question were traced to IP addresses on devices belonging to Brown, the Chronicle reported.
Friday’s charges come a day after Independence Community College trustees accepted the resignation of Dan Barwick, the college’s president who was prominently featured on “Last Chance U.”
The fourth season of “Last Chance U” is set to be released July 19 and will again follow Brown and Independence. It reportedly will include coverage of Brown’s resignation.