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Powerball winners linked to prostitution ring, Moon police say

| Friday, June 6, 2014, 10:36 p.m.
Matthew Brown of West View bought a winning $1 million Powerball ticket at Super Stop in Rankin on May 23, 2014, the Pennsylvania Lottery said. The Pennsylvania Lottery released this photo of Brown and his wife, Jennifer.
Matthew Brown of West View bought a winning $1 million Powerball ticket at Super Stop in Rankin on May 23, 2014, the Pennsylvania Lottery said. The Pennsylvania Lottery released this photo of Brown and his wife, Jennifer.

Neighbors said young women frequented the manicured, two-story West View home where court documents allege new millionaires Matthew and Jennifer Brown helped run a prostitution ring between November 2012 and June 2013.

Investigators charged Jennifer Brown, 38, with promoting prostitution and criminal conspiracy, both felonies, when Moon police said she used her home, shared with Matthew Brown and their three children, to schedule clients for a prostitution service called 69 Entertainment.

Her husband is not charged.

The couple could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Their defense attorney, Donald I. Shrager, said the Browns “look forward to defending their good names in court.”

“Jen Brown is a typical mother — a good person, a member of the PTA, well-liked by the community and her peers,” Shrager said. “These charges have been very upsetting and traumatic for her family.”

She has no criminal history, Shrager said.

State court records show Jennifer Brown pleaded guilty to a summary charge of writing a bad check in 2011.

Pennsylvania Lottery officials snapped photos of the smiling pair this week, days before Matthew Brown, 38, was suspended from part-time police work in Rankin.

He won $1 million in a May 24 Powerball lottery drawing.

“It's absolutely nothing short of a blessing from God,” he said this week.

Police Chief Ryan Wooten first learned of the investigation after the jackpot win, he said.

He hired the officer based on his background with the Allegheny County police, where Matthew Brown worked for 11 years, topping out with a salary of about $78,000, according to county spokeswoman Amie Downs. He left the department May 14, 2013, Downs said, two weeks after court records say Jennifer Brown defended her husband's merits as an officer to a member of the prostitution ring via text message.

Her arrest arose out of an investigation by the Pittsburgh police vice unit, Moon police and the FBI Human Trafficking Joint Task Force, according to court documents.

Moon Detective Charles Carr penned a lengthy criminal complaint in January detailing a sting encompassing numerous cellphones, computers, sex workers and dancers allegedly managed by Jennifer Brown and frequently transported by Matthew Brown.

Patio furniture and “No Trespassing” signs barricaded the door to their West View home Friday as officers lingered outside.

“These two have had a lot of high-highs and low-lows,” said one West View officer who refused to give his name. “They aren't taking all this attention well.”

Two neighbors who asked not to be named said the young couple held parties and entertained often. They said they assumed the women coming in and out were baby sitters or friends.

In the criminal complaint, Carr said known prostitutes named Jennifer Brown as a company manager for 69 Entertainment and Matthew Brown as its driver and security guard.

Suspects told police: “It was common knowledge that Matt Brown was a police officer.”

Text messages and cellphone contact information recorded in court records identify him as “Matt(cop)69 Driver” and “Matt2 69 Driver(cop).” Carr lists Jennifer Brown under similar monikers, documents show.

Almost one month after he left his post with county police, Matthew Brown contacted the ringleader to suggest everyone purchase throwaway phones instead, according to Carr's report.

Defense attorney Blaine Jones served as a public defender in Moon for more than a year. He knows Carr's writing well, he said.

“I've had cases where a guy was charged for driving his girlfriend, who was a prostitute, to other johns,” Jones said, “But Charles Carr is thorough. If (Matt Brown) wasn't charged, they must've known they didn't have enough to convict.”

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