Richard Glenn, the man charged with forging a check from James Brown and setting fire to the singer's Augusta, Ga., office building, was Brown's personal bodyguard and a longtime friend as well as his first cousin once removed.
"I imagine Mr. Brown's reaction will be a little like Julius Caesar's when Brutus stabbed him," Brown's lawyer, Buddy Dallas, said on Thursday (May 18). Brown returned to his Beech Island, S.C., home from a concert appearance late Wednesday night, and Dallas had not spoken to him at press time.
Glenn is the son of Willie Glenn, Brown's first cousin and childhood friend. Dallas said Brown hired the younger Glenn as a favor to his friend.
According to Dallas, Glenn, 39, had been employed by Brown to act as a "bodyguard presence" for the singer and employees of James Brown Enterprises, which burned April 28. Glenn was charged Tuesday with first-degree arson, felony forgery and misdemeanor theft.
Dallas said the fire causes $450,000 in damage to the office, which handled Brown's business activities, concert promotions and programming for WAAW-FM, the singer's Augusta radio station. Employees of James Brown Enterprises would not answer questions Thursday.
In addition to memorabilia from Brown's concert and movie appearances, the fire destroyed unreleased master tapes, including a recording of a concert at the storied Apollo Theater in New York's Harlem. Dallas said he was not sure when that concert was recorded. Brown's 1963 album, Live at the Apollo, is one of the best-selling live albums of all time.
He added that Glenn had been a constant presence in the James Brown Enterprises office: "There are a lot of women working there, and Mr. Brown wanted them to feel safe." Glenn did not carry a weapon, but Dallas said he weighs about 300 pounds and would accompany Brown when the singer went out in public.
A different firm, Liberty Security, handles security for the performer when he is on tour. Glenn was not an employee of Liberty.
Glenn allegedly opened an account in Brown's name at Georgia Bank and Trust and then forged Brown's name on a $75,000 check made out to the singer from Pepsi as part of an endorsement agreement, according to Richmond County Sheriff's department investigator Richard Roundtree.
Glenn is accused of withdrawing $35,000 from the account, of depositing those funds into his own account in another bank and of having withdrawn the rest of the money April 28, the day of the fire. Dallas said three fires had been started in the building, all in places where financial records were stored.
Glenn is being held in Richmond County Jail awaiting a preliminary hearing. No date has been set for that hearing.
Brown is credited with changing the face of R&B music with his 1960s hits, including 1965's "I Got You (RealAudio excerpt).