Chad Brown, a retired football star and Denver media personality, is being sued by two former executives at his reptile shipping company, including one he had an affair with.
The two separate lawsuits — one filed last year in Castle Rock, the other this year in Denver — accuse the linebacker-turned-herpetologist of cheating his business partner out of money, cheating on his wife with two women and firing a mistress to appease his wife.
“Mr. Brown’s behavior has risen above the level of a typical ex-lover,” alleges the latest lawsuit, which claims to be bolstered by secret recordings, “and into criminal, tortious acts.”
In court filings, Brown has acknowledged carrying on an affair with the controller of his company and then paying her $185,000 in severance, which he believes bars her from suing him. Brown denies harassing that employee or conning his business partner out of money.
“Mr. Brown’s actions were consistent with proper business practices and within the scope of his responsibilities as the CEO of the company,” his attorneys wrote last month.
Brown was a star linebacker at the University of Colorado between 1989 and 1992, including on its only national championship team in 1990. He is in the CU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Brown then played 15 years in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots before retiring in 2007. He has been a Denver Broncos analyst for 9News, a talk radio host on 104.3 The Fan and a football announcer in recent years.
The 53-year-old is also the CEO of All Pro Shipping in Lone Tree, which he and Robyn Markland, a Castle Rock man, started in 2009. Despite a 2011 fire that killed 2,000 animals, the niche company has reportedly thrived. Markland and Brown paid themselves $100,000 annually, another $7,250 monthly, and periodically split leftover profits, court documents show.
But in mid-2019, Brown, as 51-percent owner of the company, fired Markland, who had a 49-percent stake. Markland said he was given a $50,000 severance and a few other “sporadic” payments but less than what he feels he deserved. Brown then doubled his own salary.
Markland is suing Brown for allegedly defrauding him out of his half of the company, which Brown denies doing. A three-day trial is set to start Nov. 6 in Castle Rock.
Meanwhile, a less financial and far more personal case is moving ahead in Denver.
As controller, Janelle Hersch handled the finances and human resources at All Pro Shipping between 2017 and 2022. She was also Brown’s mistress from 2018 to at least 2022.
Brown told Hersch that his marriage to his wife Kristin was merely “transactional,” loveless and “essentially over,” according to Hersch. In hindsight, she said, those claims were “manipulations designed to keep (her) sexually engaged with Mr. Brown.” Hersch worried that “she would lose her job if she did not maintain her intimate relationship with Mr. Brown.”
In March of last year, Mrs. Brown learned of Hersch’s affair with Mr. Brown, according to Hersch. The company controller said she realized that she had been fired when a job applicant called All Pro Shipping to inquire about its open finance position — her position.
Hersch is suing Chad Brown and his company for allegedly breaching her employment contract, suing Kristin Brown for interfering with that contract, and suing Chad Brown for harassment and emotional distress. She says he keeps calling and messaging her at odd hours.
Meanwhile, Chad Brown claims it is Hersch who keeps calling. In a July 21 motion asking a judge to dismiss the case, Brown said that Hersch “continued their physical and sexual relationship until on or about Feb. 26, 2023,” proof his calls weren’t “unwanted.”
The Browns say that Hersch didn’t have an employment contract — she said it was verbal — and even if one did exist, Hersch’s employment was at-will, so she could be terminated. The Browns say that Hersch’s poor work performance, not the affair, led to her firing.
“Ms. Hersch fails to provide any evidence, other than the private consensual intimate affair, that Mr. Brown engaged in improper conduct regarding her alleged employment contract,” they say.
Hersch contends that Brown also carried on an affair for 10 years with a second woman, who erroneously believed he was divorced. Hersch’s lawsuit names the woman, a local actress, who did not respond to a reporter’s requests to confirm or refute that claim last week.
Brown is represented by Peter Schaffer, a Denver lawyer better known for his work as an agent to current and former NFL stars, including Brown. In the Markland case, Brown’s lawyers are Christian Myers and Daniel Delay with the Messner Reeves firm in Denver.
Hersch is represented by Alexandra Lisowski and Nicole Westbrook with Jones & Keller in Denver. Markland’s lawyer is Will Rowe with Rowe Law, also in Denver.