Pennsylvania State Representative Amen Brown, elected last year to reform Philadelphia's 190th District, has an alleged history of deed fraud and breach of contract.
Brown, a member of the Democratic Party, defeated his Republican contender Wanda Logan in November 2020. Before assuming public office, Brown was involved in the child-care and real estate industries, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
In 2014, Brown allegedly purchased a row house in the Point Breeze neighborhood in Philadelphia despite the owner of the home, Norman Johnson, having been deceased for over 10 years. The fraudulent deed transferred the property from Johnson to Brown for $15,000 and included a signature from Brown and an allegedly forged signature from Johnson, Billy Penn reported.
A judge from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas ordered that the property be returned to Johnson’s daughter, Dawn Presbery. Brown was absent from the court hearing and alleged that he was deceived into paying the $15,000 by a Craigslist scammer, Billy Penn reported.
“Amen used his own name to purchase the property — no one steals a property using their own name and then files publicly available documents,” Charles Gibbs, Brown’s defense attorney, told Billy Penn.
According to Billy Penn, Brown would only allow the property to be returned to Presbery upon a judge’s order.
Brown has also been involved in other litigation. In 2015, Brown was sued for more than $26,000 after a failed home renovation in Fishtown, and he again did not appear in court, Billy Penn reported. In March, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue imposed a tax lien against Brown for not paying $10,700 in income taxes and another company sued him for $64,000 for a loan he took out to rehab a property.
“In many of these situations, Amen didn’t receive proper notice,” Gibbs told Billy Penn regarding Brown’s repeated court absences. “It appears from the records that they either had the wrong address, he didn’t still live there, or had left that place of employment.”
Brown — the fourth representative for the 190th District in three years — is not the first elected official from the district to be charged with misconduct. In 2018, Representative Vanessa Lowery Brown — who is not related to Amen Brown — resigned from office following bribery charges, the Inquirer reported. 2002 College graduate and Representative Movita Johnson-Harrell also resigned in 2019 after being charged with stealing more than $500,000 from a charity she founded, The Washington Post reported.
Correction: The headline of a previous version of the article stated that Brown was charged with deed fraud and tax evasion when, in fact, he was not charged with these crimes. The DP regrets this error.