INDEPENDENCE — There will be plenty of drama to go around in the fourth season of “Last Chance U,” the Emmy-nominated documentary about junior college football that will once again features Independence Community College as the new season premiered on Netflix Friday.
The cameras were there to capture an Independence season that began with national championship hopes, only to end with a disastrous 2-8 season.
They were also there in February when polarizing head coach Jason Brown resigned after a text message — where Brown said, “I am your new Hitler” to a German-born player — was publicized by The Montgomery County Chronicle.
Now Brown is back in the news after the Montgomery County Attorney’s Office formally charged the former coach on June 28 with eight felony counts for allegedly pretending to be a lawyer from Johnnie Cochran’s law firm in Los Angeles in an attempt to silence criticism of Brown in local newspapers.
Brown faces four counts of blackmail, four counts of identity theft and two counts of criminal false communication. No hearing date has been set on those charges.
According to the Montgomery County Chronicle, the case stems from a series of cease-and-desist emails sent to the local newspaper from an attorney named Richard Barnwell who presented himself as representing the Cochran Law Firm and Brown.
The first cease-and-desist email received was in October 2018 following the newspaper’s editorial criticism of Brown following the release of the Last Chance U season featuring Independence.
The next came in February from the same attorney when Brown was once again in controversy after Alexandros Alexiou, a redshirt freshman from Dortmund, Germany, went to the Montgomery County Chronicle with alleged text messages from Brown.
Alexiou provided multiple screenshots of text messages allegedly from Brown. In one, the coach referred to Alexiou as “u German (expletive)” and in another he told him, “I’m your new Hitler figure out your life” after the player failed to follow instructions while hanging a poster.
Days later, Brown took to Twitter to show his resignation letter, a letter in which he blamed the newspaper.
“Given what has most recently been allowed to transpire, it is clear, that it will be nearly impossible to stay here,” Brown wrote.
“More plainly, the Montgomery County Chronicle has greatly diminished my ability to successfully do my job, and has set this football program back significantly, and the cumulative effect of all these detrimental factors I believe clearly constitute a constructive discharge of my employment.”
The newspaper had long suspected the emails were fraudulent and the Chronicle turned over the emails in February to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department for further investigation.
According to the Chronicle, the investigation alleges that Brown stole the identity of an actual attorney and sent the emails himself through a Yahoo email account with a domain name similar to the Cochran Law Firm. The emails were traced back to an IP address that belonged to Brown.
Brown gained notoriety after being prominently featured on the third season of Last Chance U. His brash and controversial coaching style sparked social-media debate as to whether his antics were worth the price of success.
The cameras captured Brown screaming and cussing at his players and assistants, but also winning. Independence, which had won just 14 games in the decade before Brown arrived, finished the 2018 season with a program-best 9-2 record, its first Jayhawk Conference championship since 1977 and its first bowl victory in program history.
But there has been significant fallout since the spotlight came to Independence.
On top of Brown resigning in controversy, Independence Community College president Dr. Daniel Barwick announced his resignation on June 18 and the Chronicle reported he received $138,000 in additional compensation in his final week.
The compensation included six months of his regular salary, six months of health insurance benefits, reimbursement for his unused sick leave and vacation time, reimbursement for his car and cellphone allowance, plus additional compensation for his final duty in completing the college’s accreditation report to the Higher Learning Commission.