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Prison? Or Better Off Dead?

Benjamin Brown apparently thought so.

As staff writer Paul Duggan reports in today's Metro section, Brown was a criminal who had violated the rules of his probation in a federal drug offense when he was arrested on a handgun charge.

Rather than go behind bars, Brown, 36, of Forestville, Md., came up with an imaginative scheme that would seemingly place him six feet underground.

On Nov. 27, 2007, an acquaintance of Brown presented to his probation officials a death certificate allegedly issued from the D.C. health department that stated Brown had been the victim of a shooting.

The probation violation against Brown was dismissed and his case was closed.

But someone in with an observant eye spotted something awry with Brown's supposed death certificate: it did not have the raised seal of the D.C. government.

An investigation was opened in to the matter and it was determined that while the certificate was real it was not official.

The case against Brown was exhumed and he was arrested on June 27, 2008.

He's alive and well today--in jail--despite his best efforts to the contrary.

Had his family tried to submit his obituary to our desk there's a chance we could have helped with some crime solving.

It's standard policy here that before a reporter submits the obituary for publication the person's death must be confirmed with a funeral home.

Otherwise, all bets for the "dead" are off.

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By T. Rees Shapiro  |  April 29, 2010; 11:08 AM ET
 | Tags: Benjamin Brown, Crime, Government, Probation, United States  
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