The fallen 6th District city councilman who changed his name in the '70s from JeRoyd Wiley Greene to JeRoyd X Greene to Sa'ad El-Amin has a history of bucking the system. In 1999 he sparked a fight over the placement of a Robert E. Lee mural on Richmond's floodwall. He was criticized in 2000 for spending $1,115 in taxpayer money on a Jamaican junket exploring Negril's sister-city potential. In 2002 he surrendered his law license pending 47 misconduct complaints before the state bar. Later that year, he also seriously challenged the city's role in the Brown's Island deal with Cordish Co. and Daniel Corp., and whether it was providing the developers too much in tax abatements and incentives.
He served on City Council from 1998 until he resigned July 1, 2003. That day, he pleaded guilty to charges that he had fraudulently represented one of his legal clients. In exchange, federal prosecutors dropped charges that he and his wife, Beverly Crawford, cheated the Internal Revenue Service out of $700,000. But he and Crawford are being held liable for the unpaid taxes.
All told, El-Amin served 34 months of his 37-month sentence for fraud, spending the last months in a halfway house in Atlanta.
During his incarceration, El-Amin underwent triple-bypass heart surgery at a Kentucky prison. Last year he was transferred to a prison in Butner, N.C., before winding up at the facility in Atlanta.
A friend of El-Amin's, who asks to remain unnamed, says he's received some phone calls recently from the former councilman indicating that he's upbeat, even-keeled and has a new career in the works.
The friend says he doesn't know where, precisely, El-Amin will bask in his newfound freedom. But in August 2005, El-Amin told him that he had no desire to return to Richmond and would make his home in Fairburn, Ga.
While in prison, El-Amin wrote to the friend, saying: "I keep up with the doo-doo that goes on" in Richmond by reading the Richmond Free Press, which he received in prison, and listening to WRVA news at night. He also wrote that he'd rather not come back to a place where "Wilder's power trip" had taken hold.