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Jury clears former ‘Skin’s business associate in fraud case

A business associate of a deceased former Washington Redskins player was cleared Wednesday of charges that he had cheated the player’s widow on a business venture in Stafford County.

Duwayne Steven Willis, 40, of Manassas was charged with contractor fraud and obtaining money by false pretenses. A jury found him not guilty in Stafford Circuit Court.

According to defense attorney Jason Pelt, Willis used to do construction work for Perry Brooks, a defensive tackle with the Redskins from 1977-84 and member of the team that won the Super Bowl in January 1983.

The evidence showed that Brooks had a number of business ventures following his retirement, including buying foreclosed homes, fixing them up and selling them. Willis, who was not a licensed contractor, would help Brooks do the work after Brooks obtained the necessary permits.

Pelt said the arrangement worked well until March 2010, when Brooks—whose son Ahmad Brooks was a star linebacker for the University of Virginia and currently plays for the San Francisco 49ers—died in Woodbridge at the age of 55.

One of the projects Willis was involved in was a house at 21 Hill Lane in Stafford that Perry Brooks purchased in 2008. The home was in mid-renovation when Brooks died and his wife, Vergie Brooks, asked Willis shortly after her husband’s death to finish the work.

Willis agreed, according to the evidence, but he and Vergie Brooks never had a contract or a set price.

Over the next two years, Brooks paid Willis a total of $28,225 in seven checks. By January 2012, she testified, she became concerned that the project still wasn’t done and she hired another contractor. That contractor told her that Willis wasn’t qualified to do the work she requested because he isn’t licensed.

Vergie Brooks fired Willis in February 2012 and asked for all her money back. She also contacted the Stafford Sheriff’s Office, which obtained warrants against Willis.

Willis told Brooks that he couldn’t give her money back because it had all been put into the house. Pelt put on several witnesses Wednesday, including an electrician, a plumber and a heavy equipment operator, who testified that they had done work on the house. Willis produced receipts totaling more than what Brooks had paid him.

Pelt argued that Vergie Brooks was trying to use the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office as a debt collector for what should have been a civil action.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404