Civil Rights Leader Arrested at DC-Area Airport

The former right-hand man to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was accused of fraud, writing a bad check

Former D.C. congressman and civil rights activist Walter Fauntroy was arrested Monday on a charge of passing a bad check for $50,000 when he returned to the United States after years abroad, officials said.

Fauntroy, 83, was detained at Washington Dulles International Airport after he arrived from Dubai about 8:15 a.m. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers saw there was an outstanding warrant bearing his name and took him into custody, an agency spokesman said. Fauntroy was accused of fraud, writing a bad check in Prince George's County, Maryland, and failing to appear in court.

The former right-hand man to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been living abroad, and friends and relatives had expressed concerns about his health. He told The Washington Post in a phone interview last week he was coming home and believed the bad-check issue was resolved.

The check was written in the amount of $50,000, according to a representative for the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office. It was intended to help pay for a 2009 ball he had organized for President Barack Obama's first inauguration.

Attorney Arthur Reynolds, who is representing Fauntroy in the bad-check case, said Monday he had not yet spoken to Fauntroy and could not comment on the case. He previously said Fauntroy had paid back some but not all of the money.

Fauntroy is being held for Maryland law enforcement in Loudoun County, where part of Dulles is located. He is expected to appear in court Tuesday morning via closed-circuit television.

Fauntroy, who served in Congress for 20 years, helped organize the 1963 March on Washington and founded the Free South Africa movement. 

News4 reported in January that Fauntroy's family and friends said the former pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Northwest D.C. had gone missing after traveling extensively through Africa and the Middle East. His wife, Dorothy, told News4 she wanted her husband to come home.

Barnes and others were trying to find Fauntroy and persuade him to to return home. A small group of loved ones also has been preparing to raise money to help pay Fauntroy’s debts.

According to bankruptcy documents filed in March 2015, Fauntroy had been traveling for years and had little contact with family or friends. Longtime associate Johnny Barnes filed bankruptcy papers on behalf of Fauntroy and his wife to stave off the foreclosure of their home in Northwest D.C.'s Crestwood neighborhood.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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