Elder abuse and attempted extortion could go on Matthew Brown’s rap sheet after Santa Barbara police officers arrested the 28-year-old S.B. resident for allegedly attempting to extort $5,000 from an elderly man following a fictional traffic incident.
According to SBPD spokesperson Sergeant Riley Harwood, Brown flagged down a 67-year-old Santa Barbara resident while the man drove on Mission Street near Chapala Street at 6:15 p.m. on August 1. Brown told the driver that his Mercedes-Benz had struck him while he walked across the street. Brown allegedly followed up this accusation by telling the victim he had committed a hit-and-run accident.
Harwood said the victim feared for his safety throughout the confrontation, as the much larger Brown allegedly swore at and derided the victim, who provided his contact information despite not believing he had ever collided with Brown.
Following the incident, Brown contacted the victim and demanded $5,000 in compensation, reportedly requesting cash and saying he wanted to keep the police and insurance companies in the dark, threatening the victim with jail time for the “hit-and-run” if he did not pay. However, the victim contacted police, prompting an investigation by SBPD Traffic Collision Investigator Jaycee Hunter. Hunter’s investigation revealed that the traffic collision never happened and that Brown was currently on felony probation from an earlier crime in which he stole $7,000 from the checking account of an elderly woman he knew.
Hunter’s findings led him to obtain an arrest warrant for Brown on attempted extortion and elder abuse. A search of Brown’s apartment at 1818 Bath Street on August 31 led to his arrest at the scene. During the arrest, deputies also discovered Brown’s girlfriend, 25-year-old Alexis Janelle Flores, under the influence of heroin and in possession of heroin and narcotics paraphernalia, for which she was also arrested. The drugs and materials were allegedly within reach of the couple’s 3-year-old son, who was placed in the custody of Flores’s family by Child Welfare Services after her arrest.
Brown was booked into County Jail on $50,000 bail for elder abuse and attempted extortion, while Flores was booked on $10,000 bail for the drug charges as well as child endangerment.