ORLANDO, Fla. — An Orlando-area mechanic who narrowly avoided deportation for a wrongful marijuana conviction in 1999 was exonerated under Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s Conviction Integrity Unit.
- Ayala holding news conference in Orlando on Thursday
- She says her team got a man's illegal conviction tossed
- Dwayne Brown and wife, Khadene, to address media
Ayala and other officials Thursday were due to detail Dwayne Brown’s battle against the legal system and explain how he spent years fighting a five-year attempt to deport the married father of three to his native Jamaica.
The state attorney was scheduled to hold a news conference at 3 p.m. about her unit’s first exoneration.
“Brown came to New York from Jamaica as a teenager in 1993,” her office said in a statement this morning. “He received Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card) status upon entering the United States with an immigrant visa based on a family petition filed by his mother.”
After moving to Central Florida in 1995, Brown graduated from West Orange High School, her office said.
After high school, Winter Garden Police searched his place of employment and found 3 grams of cannabis in a “secret compartment.”
“Although there was another worker present and Brown never confessed to possessing the marijuana, he was arrested and initially charged with Possession of Cannabis with Intent to Sell,” Ayala’s office said.
He pleaded no contest to a third-degree felony of possession of cannabis within 1,000 feet of a church, though no church was nearby, Ayala's office said.
Brown was placed on two years’ probation and successfully completed 100 hours of community service.
However, he was stopped by immigration officials in Atlanta while returning from Jamaica after attending a family member's wedding. Green card holders with criminal pasts can be put into a deportation process upon attempting to re-enter the U.S.
Brown fought deportation for years and eventually asked Ayala for help.
“Ayala's Conviction Integrity Unit conducted a preliminary review of the case and found several significant problems with Brown's plea and conviction,” the statement noted.
Orange-Osceola Circuit Court Judge Tanya Davis Wilson granted a motion filed by Ayala's team and vacated his illegal felony conviction on January 15.
Brown's attorney petitioned the immigration court and received a last-minute order that stopped the deportation process, paving the way for Brown to remain with his family and apply for U.S. citizenship, Ayala's office said.