James Brown Employee Arrested In Arson Fire

Authorities say worker set blaze that damaged singer's office building to destroy evidence of alleged forgery.

One of R&B legend James Brown's own employees was arrested Tuesday and charged with setting the blaze that burned the singer's Augusta, Ga., office building April 28.

Richard Glenn, 39, of Augusta was arrested by Richmond County Sheriff's officers and charged with arson in the first degree, according to Maj. Ken Autry of the sheriff's department.

Glenn also was charged with misdemeanor theft and felony forgery. Glenn allegedly stole a check from James Brown Enterprises, which handles the singer's business dealings, concert arrangements and programming for WAAW-FM, the Augusta radio station Brown owns.

Autry said Glenn opened a bank account and deposited the $75,000 check, which was made out to him. This tipped off authorities, Autry said, and they began investigating Glenn in connection with the fire. He also said investigators believe the worker set fire to the building to destroy evidence linking him to the forgery.

Glenn is in custody in the Richmond County Jail awaiting a bond hearing. No date has been set for the hearing.

Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department investigator Lt. G.B. Hannon declared the fire arson May 3, when he determined that chemical accelerants had been used to start the blaze. A door was ajar when firefighters arrived on the scene, and the building's alarm system did not go off, Hannon said.

Brown's attorney, Buddy Dallas, said three fires had been started in the building, all in places where financial records were stored. Neither Dallas nor other spokespersons for Brown were available for comment Wednesday (May 17).

Though dollar estimates of the damage have not been released, the building contained much of Brown's personal memorabilia, including gold records and stage costumes. Collectors have estimated the value of those items alone to be in the tens of thousands of dollars, in addition to the value of the property itself.

Brown, 67, is best known for such funk classics as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" (RealAudio excerpt).