Kidnapping charge dropped as woman pleads guilty to lesser charge

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

A 21-year-old mother was sentenced to 21 days in jail and 30 days on a work crew in connection with the alleged kidnapping of a man near Orchards Park in June in a ploy to recover stolen marijuana.

As part of a plea bargain, Valentine P. Brown of Yacolt pleaded guilty Thursday in Clark County Superior Court to one count of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. In exchange, the Prosecuting Attorney's Office agreed to dismiss a second-degree kidnapping charge against her.

Freddie Johnson, 18, and Anthony Olsen, age unknown, responded to a Craigslist ad for medical marijuana, said Brown's defense attorney, Todd Pascoe. Brown and her husband, Frank Brown, met Johnson and Olson at Orchards Park on June 15 and kidnapped Johnson after Olsen allegedly ran off with two pounds of marijuana from the couple instead of buying it, according to a court affidavit.

Frank Brown allegedly grabbed Johnson and ordered him into the couple's vehicle. Johnson said he complied because Frank Brown's substantial size intimidated him, Pascoe said. Frank Brown is 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, according to court records.

The couple told Johnson that they would drive him to a nearby waterfall and shoot him in the head if he didn't convince Olsen to return the marijuana, the court affidavit says.

Valentine Brown, who was a passenger in the vehicle, told Johnson to put a cloth shopping bag over his head, Ward said.

Frank Brown drove to a residence north of Battle Ground and dropped off his wife, who was then seven months pregnant, placed Johnson into a different vehicle and drove him back to Orchards Park, according to court records.

When Brown saw a police vehicle, he ordered Johnson out of the vehicle, court records say.

Frank Brown told police that Johnson had hatched the plan and agreed to play

along to persuade his friend to return the marijuana, court records say.

Court records indicate Frank Brown is unemployed but earns income from a medical marijuana dispensary.

Pascoe argued against jail time for Valentine Brown because she is breast-feeding the couple's 5-month-old baby and was not as heavily involved in the scheme. He said she had no prior criminal history, didn't know that selling the marijuana was illegal and "stepped forward to accept responsibility."

Judge Scott Collier said under the law, she has the same criminal culpability as her husband, and sentenced her to the jail time.

"You're going to have to have somebody take care of the baby," he said.

Frank E. Brown, 28, is scheduled to go on trial March 24 in the case, but his wife's attorney said Thursday that he may enter a guilty plea before then. His attorney, David Kurtz, and the Prosecuting Attorney's Office have agreed to jointly recommend he receive a sentence of five months in jail, said Deputy Prosecutor Rebecca Ward.