FBI fugitive may be living high life in S.L.

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 16 2008 12:11 a.m. MDT

He stands out from the roster of reprobates on the FBI's notorious list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives.

A pretty party boy who has lived a flashy lifestyle of clubs, cars and outdoor adventures, Jason Derek Brown is wanted in the brazen murder of an armored car driver outside a Phoenix-area movie theater in 2004.

The FBI is now investigating reports that one of their top 10 fugitives is back in the Salt Lake City area.

"He could be in and around the Salt Lake City metropolitan area," FBI Special Agent Juan Becerra said Monday.

Brown, 39, was spotted earlier this summer by a friend while stopped at a traffic light near Hogle Zoo. That friend knew he was wanted, Becerra said.

"It was a surprise to that individual. They immediately notified us," he said.

Other information has FBI agents believing Brown could still be in the area.

"He's an extremely smart individual and guards his identity quite closely," Becerra said, adding that Brown's hair was longer than seen in photographs on his wanted poster.

Paradoxically, the fugitive likes being the center of attention. Becerra described Brown as intelligent, gregarious and able to talk himself in and out of situations. He likes to appear affluent, showing off high-end cars and other bling at nightclubs that he frequents. Brown is an avid golfer, snowboarder, skier and rides dirt bikes.

"He's comfortable outdoors, and it may lend itself towards wanting to be in and around the Salt Lake City area," Becerra said.

The FBI said he has a master's degree in international business and speaks fluent French, having served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"That is something we obviously take into account with him being at ease traveling internationally," Becerra said.

Brown's wanted poster also said he has been described as having bisexual tendencies. Born in California, he worked as a salesman in Salt Lake City for a number of years before moving to Arizona.

Brown was reportedly deep in debt and living in Salt Lake City's Sugar House neighborhood when he purchased a .45-caliber pistol and signed up for one of Clark Aposhian's concealed weapons permit classes.

"He was quite arrogant," Aposhian recalled. "He reminded me of a California beach bum. He drove up in a brand new BMW."

Aposhian said Brown was in a hurry and couldn't shoot very well. He purchased a Glock .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun from him right away. The gun was later used in the murder of armored truck guard Robert Keith Palomares, who was shot five times in the head as he exited a movie theater with a bag of cash. Authorities said Brown fled down an alley on a bicycle with about $56,000 in cash.

"It gives me pause to reflect: Did I give him the skills to do that?" Aposhian wondered.

But it was Aposhian who helped the FBI by registering Brown's fingerprints with state authorities for the concealed carry permit. He also provided the photograph that is used on Brown's Most Wanted poster. Brown was quietly added to the Ten Most Wanted list in December 2007.

Brown is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall,about 180 pounds, medium build, white, blond hair and green eyes. He has gone by the aliases Derek Brown, Greg Johnson, Harline Johnson, Greg Harline Johnson, John Brown and Jay Brown.

"We know for a fact that he has acquaintances in the Salt Lake City area," Becerra said. "He may be here on occasion to visit and see people."

The FBI considers Brown armed and dangerous. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call police.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com

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