Prisoner Freed After Nine Years
CINCINNATI (AP) _ Larry Brown walked out of jail a free man Monday after spending nine years in prison for charging $164 on a stolen credit card.
″I just can’t believe it. It feels great,″ he said, looking around as he walked from the Hamilton County Justice Center jail in a donated sweatsuit.
Brown, 53, freed by a judge’s order, walked five blocks to a restaurant and ordered four cheese-sprinkled hot dogs, oyster crackers and a soft drink. It was the same meal he recalled having eaten before he was jailed Oct. 23, 1980.
He said he wants to spend Christmas with family and see five grandchildren who were born while he was in prison.
″I don’t feel bitter,″ he said. ″I’m glad that the system works. I’m just sorry that it took this long.″
He said he would thank his lawyers, Robert Newman of Cincinnati and Daniel Kobil of Columbus, a Capital University law professor, who donated their time to help persuade Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Norbert Nadel to free him.
The judge granted Brown early probation on Nov. 30, effective Monday, saying Brown had served enough time. Brown would have been eligible for parole review in May 1990.
″I wish him well,″ Nadel said.
Brown, a Cincinnati native, said he would start work by mid-January for Vision Broadcasting of Cleveland as a sales representative selling broadcast time. Brown, who said he formerly sold advertising for a Charleston, W.Va., television station, contacted the Cleveland company for a job.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Arthur Ney Jr. said he has not decided whether to appeal Brown’s release. He has until Jan. 7 to appeal.
Ney has argued that Brown waited too long to request probation and that Brown’s criminal record indicates he could commit other crimes. Prosecutors said Brown’s record dates to 1957 and includes arrests for offenses including assault, fraud, forgery, pasing bad checks and mail fraud.
Former Common Pleas Judge Peter Outcalt, who sentenced Brown in 1980 to 11 two- to five-year terms, said he was convinced Brown was ″the worst unmitigated liar that has ever been in this courtroom″ and called him a disgrace to society. Outcalt died in 1982 and Nadel inherited the case.
Brown had hoped to leave prison in May 1988 after the Ohio Parole Board recommended that Gov. Richard Celeste grant him clemency. But Celeste refused, concluding that he could still be dangerous.
Celeste spokeswoman Heidi Findley said prison personnel described Brown as a problem prisoner who had not adjusted to jail life.