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DA doubts mayor will face any charges in SUV incident

Although the county prosecutor will review the information coming out of the investigation into Mayor Byron W. Brown's "stolen" car, District Attorney Frank J. Clark said he highly doubts Brown will face criminal consequences.

The mayor's son, Byron W. Brown III, 16, is scheduled to appear in City Court on April 16 to face charges for leaving the scene of an accident and driving without a license.

"I would doubt that there's any further criminal liability to anybody else," Clark said Friday.

Technically, Clark said, the minute a potentially false insurance claim is made, the filer could face prosecution. But in this instance, Clark said, it might be impossible to prove that anyone other than Brown's son was aware that he and not a thief took the family's Chevrolet Equinox on Feb. 24, crashing the SUV into several other vehicles. Clark added that there doesn't appear to be any indication that the mayor or his wife made intentionally false statements to their insurer.

What's more, he said, proving conclusively who knew what and when they knew it -- would be difficult.

"The only ones to offer evidence are members of the family," he said. "I take what they say at face value."

Still, Clark stopped short of totally ruling out the possibility that the criminal case could extend beyond Brown's son. That could hinge on what any investigations by insurance companies conclude, Clark said. "If they thought there's a possibility of fraud, they would pass it to [the district attorney's office]," he said.

Brown's family is insured by Allstate. A spokeswoman for the carrier refused to confirm whether an investigation into the SUV incident is continuing. Krista Conte said the carrier is obligated to protect the privacy of clients and has a policy of not publicly discussing internal matters.

"It is our responsibility to look for swift resolutions to all claims," Conte said.

Meanwhile, the mother of a woman whose car was damaged in the incident said she's relieved the teenager finally told the truth -- albeit six weeks after the accident that caused such uncertainty for the owners of the other damaged vehicles.

"But I don't believe the son was lying to his parents all this time," said Betty Tryjankowski. "I believed it was a concerted effort to cover it up."

Still, she admits it would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove such a suspicion. Tryjankowski said she's not advocating that a criminal probe be launched against the mayor, saying such a decision is best left to prosecutors and insurance investigators.


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