Tuesday should have been the beginning of America’s love affair with the smooth-singing Brittenum brothers. The identical Memphis twins wowed the “American Idol” judges during their audition with some Sam Cooke-like vocal runs and made it through to the next round. But that first appearance may be the last we hear from the 28-year-old siblings for a while. Terrell Brittenum has been in jail since January 10, and his brother is wanted by police.
The Brittenums had outstanding criminal warrants when the show aired. Both were charged in Rockdale County, Georgia, with forgery, theft by deception and financial identity fraud over the purchase of a 2005 Dodge Magnum last June. The brothers allegedly used another man’s identity to buy the car.
“We have yet to arrest Derrell, who is still wanted on an active warrant out of Rockdale,” said Steve Shular, a spokesperson for the Shelby County, Tennessee, sheriff’s department.
“We’re still looking for him. We’ve been to his home, and we’re looking on the streets.” According to Shular, the Brittenums’ mother and attorney indicated that Derrell would turn himself in on Thursday (January 19), but as of press time, he had not done so.
An “Idol” spokesperson refused to comment on the matter, the latest in a string of legal issues that have come back to haunt the show’s participants (see ” ‘Idol’ Singer Bo Bice Has Drug Rap Sheet, Court Papers Show” ). “We don’t comment on the personal lives of our show participants,” spokesperson Scott Grogin said. When asked if the pair will appear again, Grogin added, “We don’t comment on future episodes.” The brothers made it through to the next round in Hollywood, which has already taped. The audition footage that aired during was taped in mid-September.
Tuesday’s season-five debut of “American Idol” drew 35.5 million viewers, the best-ever premiere ratings for the program.
The charges against the pair were discovered during a routine traffic stop in Memphis on October 30. According to Shular, officers ran the tag on the Magnum and discovered it was stolen and that there was an arrest warrant out on the brothers in Georgia.
Derrell Brittenum was arrested and, in a written statement to police, acknowledged knowing that he was in a stolen car. Terrell was arrested on November 2 on a fugitive charge, with Georgia authorities alleging that he’d given his brother someone else’s financial information to buy the $23,000 car in June.
Both posted bond in early November, but have since refused to be extradited to Georgia, prompting authorities to get a warrant to re-arrest the Brittenums for an extradition hearing, Shular said. Terrell is currently cooling his heels in Tennessee’s Shelby County Jail, and when Derrell turns himself in, the pair will face the extradition hearing, the date of which has not yet been set.
The Brittenums have prior records in Shelby County, according to Shular. Terrell’s offenses include traffic violations and a 2000 misdemeanor citation for disorderly conduct and indecent exposure. Derrell was arrested in 1998 for theft over $500 and in 2000 for contempt of court and passing bad checks, according to court records.
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