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Orient police chief arrested after incidents at bars

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Orient Police Chief Joe Brown is being accused of making threats and brandishing a gun at two separate bars Saturday night in the small Franklin County town.

Brown, 39, of Herrin was arrested Monday afternoon at the sheriff’s office on charges of intimidation and official misconduct, according to a statement released by Franklin County Sheriff Donald Jones.

Sheriff Jones said his office responded to the Phillip Whiteside American Legion Post 1961 about 10:22 p.m. that night and employees and patrons reported that Brown came in intoxicated, made threats and brandished a gun. Brown had already left the establishment by the time deputies arrived, he said.

Employees at Elsie’s Tavern later reported to deputies that Brown had done the same thing in that establishment before going into the nearby American Legion, Jones said.

Paul Jackanicz, of Elsie’s Tavern, filed a “stalking no contact” order of protection against Brown on Monday as well. Sheriff Jones said Jackanicz is the owner of Elsie’s Tavern.

Orient Mayor Pete Witkewiz said that upon hearing of Saturday night's alleged events, he immediately suspended Brown and asked for his resignation.

"He told me he was going to give me that resignation," Witkewiz said.

Though he had not done so as of Monday evening, Witkewiz said he expected it in the coming days. The mayor said he'd heard from enough people about the alleged events that he felt comfortable removing Brown from the post even before court proceedings.

Witkewiz said if he doesn't get the resignation letter within a week, he'll recommend during next Monday's Orient City Council meeting that Brown be fired.

"One way or another, his service to Orient is over," the mayor said.

Witkewiz said Brown worked for the city part-time, and is or was recently also a member of the Illinois National Guard.

Attempts to locate a phone number for Brown were unsuccessful.

The sheriff said no further arrests are anticipated, though additional charges could be filed by the state’s attorney.

Orient, population 350, is just west of West Frankfort.

molly.parker@thesouthern.com

618-351-5079

On Twitter: @MollyParkerSI

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