Would-be St. John DA accused of theft

When he ran for district attorney in 2008, LaPlace lawyer Kerry Brown had a stern message for would-be criminals.

“I will not tolerate lawlessness,” Brown boasted at the time, promising to be “aggressive in convicting criminals” if he won the St. John the Baptist Parish post.

Now, Brown, a former assistant district attorney, has found himself on the other side of the law: A St. John parish grand jury indicted the 42-year-old Monday on charges he stole more than $50,000 from multiple clients, court records show.

Brown, 144 East Lakeview Drive, was indicted on one count of felony theft, one count of compounding a felony and six counts of forgery.

State Police investigators and the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board allege Brown, a personal injury lawyer, failed to notify several clients involved in car accidents that settlements were reached, instead keeping the money for himself, during a seven-month span beginning in October 2010.

One client was elderly, prosecutors said.

They have been building a case against Brown for awhile. In fact, he originally surrendered to authorities in May 2012, after an arrest warrant was issued.

“The serious nature of these allegations clearly shows that the defendant abused his stature as an attorney to take advantage of vulnerable clients,” Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said Tuesday in a news release.

“The evidence indicates that he stole thousands of dollars for his own personal use.”

The 2008 district attorney’s race was Brown’s first run for political office.

He lost to the St. John district attorney, Tom Daley, who recused himself from the case.

During the campaign, Brown said in a newspaper interview that he would take a hard line prosecuting those who committed crimes against the elderly, which he now stands accused of doing.

“I have a deep commitment to the people of St. John, and this is not about politics for me: It is about safety and getting the best results for the entire St. John community,” he said at the time.

A number for Brown’s LaPlace law office appeared to be disconnected Tuesday.