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Documents: Man charged in cross burning violates bond conditions

Documents: Man charged in cross burning violates bond conditions


More than two months after a federal judge allowed a Marion, Virginia, man to be released from jail in a cross-burning case, he’s back in custody after authorities said he violated bond conditions.

James Brown, 40, was arrested Monday after officers said they found an unauthorized person with marijuana and paraphernalia inside his home in Marion. Brown was indicted by a grand jury in July on charges of lying to federal agents, criminal interference with fair housing based on the victim’s race and using fire in commission of a felony. He was also charged with possessing firearms while unlawfully using a controlled substance.

James Brown

James Brown

The case stems from a cross burning in the early morning hours of June 14 outside the home of Travon Brown, an African American 17-year-old who had organized a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Marion the previous day. James Brown and Travon Brown are not related.

Originally, Magistrate Judge Pamela Sargent granted bail of $25,000 but required Brown to meet certain conditions. Court records show he must reside at his current home, not change residences without the permission of the probation officer, stay away from the victim and witnesses, only allow his girlfriend and children in his home and not be around drugs.

Federal probation officers recently visited the home and informed Brown that they needed to conduct a “complete walk through of the residence and I asked him if anyone else was in the residence,” according to court documents.

Brown said no one else was there.

“While walking through the residence, I came to a closed door and asked what was in the room,” a probation officer wrote. “He said his friend from New York was in there sleeping.”

The officer said he woke the person up and found two marijuana smoking devices, a cigar wrapper and loose marijuana. Brown told the officer that his friend had been there for about three weeks and was planning to stay for another week, documents show.

The friend said the marijuana and paraphernalia were his and Brown had not smoked any.

Brown appeared briefly in court Monday and admitted to the violations. Sargent revoked bond and ordered him to remain in custody pending trial, which is scheduled for Feb. 8-12.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Lee said that, if found guilty, Brown could face up to an eight-year sentence and/or a $250,000 fine for the false statements charge and up to 10 years and/or a $250,000 fine for each of the other three charges.

A show cause hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 21 for Brown’s girlfriend, Viana Ayala, to determine whether she should be held in contempt. Ayala was responsible for Brown while he was on bond. | 276-645-2531 | Twitter: @RSorrellBHC |

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