Politics

Former D.C. Del. Walter Fauntroy Arrested After Years as a Fugitive

He was picked up at Virginia airport on charges of fraud and failing to appear in court

Former D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy as he appeared in a photo provided Monday by local authorities. (Loudoun County Sheriff's Office)

Walter E. Fauntroy, a prominent figure of the civil rights era and the first delegate to represent the District of Columbia in Congress, was arrested in Virginia on Monday over outstanding warrants after spending years abroad as a fugitive.  

U.S. Customs and Border agents picked up Fauntroy, 83, at Dulles airport after he arrived on a flight from Dubai, the agency said in a statement.  

Charges include failure to appear and fraud for allegedly passing a bad check, customs said.  

He became a fugitive in 2012 after leaving the country without resolving a substantial debt incurred in neighboring Prince George’s County, Maryland. The five-figure sum was tied to an inaugural ball Fauntroy organized in 2009.  

Fauntroy was one of the driving forces behind the historic 1963 March on Washington and the voting rights demonstrations of 1965 that spurred clashes from Selma to Montgomery.  

In 1971, Fauntroy became the first delegate to represent the District of Columbia in Congress. Absent the ability to vote, Fauntroy dedicated himself to coalition building; he became one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus.  

Fauntroy left office in 1990 to run for mayor, but lost to Sharon Pratt Kelly, the first African-American woman to preside over a major city in the U.S.  

He was succeed by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the 13-term Democrat who has held the post ever since.  

Fauntroy told  The Washington Post last week that he was ready to finally return home, and that he looked forward to clearing the air about his extended absence.  

“Once I get back, I want to open up on everything,” he said.  

Contact Rojas at warrenrojas@rollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @WARojas.

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