WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Walter Fauntroy helped plan the 1963 March on Washington with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1971, he was elected as D.C.’s first delegate to Congress. But it was his trip to Saudi Arabia and a $20,000 debt that he wanted to talk about.
“Everybody who’s under the sound of my voice knows when you’re lied on and cheated - it hurts you,” Fauntroy said at a tribute luncheon Friday.
The 83-year-old was accused of writing a bad check for $55,000 for an inaugural ball in 2009 then fleeing to Saudi Arabia for four years. Upon his return to U.S. soil in June, he was arrested.
“My wife did not believe that her husband would steal money,” he said. “A member of the Banking Committee stupid enough to pass a check that would bounce?”
When he returned, he recalled his wife saying, “Thank God you’re back here because these people think you’re a thug!”
Fauntroy’s attorney said he paid most of this debt before leaving but the criminal charges were just dropped Monday after he gave the event planner the $20,000 he owed her.
“We wanted to resolve that quickly,” said former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glen Ivey. “I don’t know if there are any hard feelings either way.”
Ivey was among the many who toasted Fauntroy during the tribute luncheon.
“Walter all I can say is, ‘Man, I’m so glad to have you back - you scared us,’” said Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.
The room broke out in laughter.
Fauntroy said he was not running away, but raising money for energy programs for poor countries. And while he did not have contact with his wife of 50 years, he said allegations he abandoned her and left her penniless are false.
“I went away from here worried that they had taken away all my money and I couldn’t pay anything for my family,” he said.
Fauntroy and his attorney alleged the government unjustly froze his assets and he was only able to return when people back home raised money for his return flight.
WUSA9 contacted the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s office and the U.S Attorney’s office and neither had any dealing with his personal accounts.