MARYLAND

John Brown, Prince George's Co. building inspector, accused of extortion

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A Prince George's County building inspector is on administrative leave following accusations he used his position in an attempt to extort money from a restaurant.

John Brown, 52, of Clinton is employed by the Prince George's County Department of Environmental Resources.

According to investigators, he was responsible for inspecting Levi's Restaurant in Clinton, Md. As he was inspecting the restaurant, he saw the business was also a live music venue, authorities say.

In March, he began using his position to force the owners into letting his band, "Intimate Sounds", play at the restaurant each week. Brown allegedly demanded $1,000 a week for the gig and threatened to "have this place shut down" if the restaurant didn't agree.

After what was supposed to be a free trial performance in Nov., police say, Brown returned and demanded $1,000. The owners of Levi's called police, and an undercover operation was organized.

Police say Brown came to the restaurant again on Jan. 3, 2013 and demanded $1,000 from the "entertainment manager". Unbeknownst to him, the entertainment manager was actually an undercover Prince George's County police officer.

Brown was arrested and charged with two counts of extortion and two counts of harassment.

At the time of his arrest, Brown was on the clock and wearing his Department of Environmental Resources uniform. He was also driving a company car. 

Brown is currently on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. He has been a building inspector with the county's Department of Environmental Resources since 2007.

At his home in Clinton Friday night, Brown vehemently denied that he ever threatened to shut down the restaurant, adding "what's out there is not the truth."

Brown added, "When my attorney and everything comes out in the wash, you'll understand...then you'll have a good story and a true story."

The Prince George's County Police Department wants anyone who may have had similar interactions with Brown to come forward.

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