Judge to decide whether Brown can stand trial

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Dorothy June Brown leaves federal court in September.

The question of whether charter school magnate Dorothy June Brown is competent to be retried on charges that she defrauded her schools of $6.3 million now lies with a federal judge.

A three-day hearing, during which psychiatrists and psychologists expounded on Brown's mental state, concluded Friday with testimony from defense expert Barbara Malamut, who told the court that Brown had cognitive impairment that would prevent her from assisting her defense in her retrial.

Malamut's testimony clashed with that of earlier government witnesses who offered rosier assessments of Brown, concluding she exhibited no sign of mental illness.

Brown, 77, is accused of bilking four charter schools she founded of $6.3 million and conspiring with other administrators to cover up the fraud. Last January, a federal jury acquitted her on six counts, but deadlocked on nearly 50 other charges, prompting prosecutors' efforts to retry the case.

Since then, her lawyers say, Brown's health has deteriorated to where she now has problems remembering dates, her age, the year, and where she went to school.

U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick is expected to rule on Brown's competence in the coming weeks.


jroebuck@phillynews.com

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