In a memorandum filed Monday in U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, former Rep. Steve Brown, D-St. Louis, says he should receive a lighter sentence on his felony election conspiracy charge due to his work in helping the FBI nail his co-conspirator, Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis.
Brown's attorney notes that FBI officials could testify that Brown's help, resulted in "four other felony convictions that would have been difficult or unlikely..."
The court document notes that Brown's help with the FBI investigation began almost immediately:
He was not charged in a second conspiracy count (as were two other defendants) for the reason that at all times involving that count he was not a participant in any wrongful conduct but in fact was acting in cooperation with and at the direction of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation. When first interviewed by the FBI Agents concerning the circumstances relating to a cover up to thwart an inquiry being conducted by the Federal Election Commission, Mr. Brown was immediately forthright and completely
truthful. He realized that what he had done to help derail the review being conducted by the Federal Election Commission was unlawful and morally wrong as well.
Consequently, without hesitation he endeavored to remedy the situation as best he could by being candid and completely truthful with the agents. He also actively participated in cooperation with them in the furtherance of their investigation.
Brown offered recommendations on how he could serve the community better through pro bono work, though not as a lawyer since he has surrendered his license. He also noted that he had to resign from the House of Representatives and from a position as a trustee of Blackburn College:
When considering the aforementioned consequences taken together with the embarrassment and humiliation suffered by Mr. Brown by reason of the high profile of this matter, it seems that the Court’s duty to impose a sentence sufficient but not great
than necessary would be satisfied without incarceration.
Mr. Brown is 42 years old, married to Rebecca and they are the parents of two young children, ages 5 (Ben) 2 (Sarah). Until now, Mr. Brown, as well as his family has enjoyed an exemplary reputation in this community, both for their public service and
their charity. This has been strongly attested to by the volume and content of the letters the Court has received in support of Mr. Brown.
It is respectfully submitted and requested that Mr. Brown not be incarcerated. A sentence of probation with significant community service as its principal requirement would seem to satisfy the requirements of Title 18, Section 3553. Although he has no law license, a position (pro bono) with the Eastern Missouri Legal Services Office would benefit the community, as well as himself. Under such an arrangement Mr. Brown could assist staff lawyers, however, could not advise clients, could not appear in court or perform any other function ordinarily done by an attorney. This type of activity has been approved in the past for lawyers who have been disbarred and in fact has been encouraged
Brown is not the only defendant angling for a lighter sentence. As The Turner Report first noted on Oct. 27, Smith has also filed court documents disputing pre-sentencing recommendations, only his filing was sealed and is not open to public scrutiny:
In a sealed document filed today in U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Smith objected to the presentence investigation report. That would indicate the government is planning to recommend more prison time than Smith is wanting to serve.
Smith resigned from the Senate Aug. 25, the same day he pleaded guilty to the charges which involve running a smear campaign against Russ Carnahan, his opponent in the 2004 Congressional primary.
In a self-serving statement issued to his supporters that day, Smith softpedaled his actions, while concentrating heavily on his accomplishments in office.
Details revealed in court documents showed that Smith not only went along with a coverup of the activities of his operative, Milton Ohlsen during the primary campaign, but he also was willing to throw the blame on one of his former campaign aides who had died earlier. From the Aug. 25 Turner Report:
Not knowing that his conversation was being overheard by the feds, Sen. Jeff Smith, who resigned his seat and pleaded guilty to two felony counts of obstruction of justice, tried to talk his co-conspirator, Rep. Steve Brown, into blaming everything on the late Artie Harris.
During a June 30 meeting at Starbuck's Cafe in Clayton, Smith told Brown, "Can you put it on Arnie?" Smith asked. "If you can just put it on Arnie." Arnie Harris, a key member of Jeff Smith's 2004 Congressional campaign, died shortly after being interviewed by the FEC about accusations, since proven to be factual, that Smith's campaign worked with Milton "Skip" Ohlsen on the direct mailing of attack literature against the eventual winner of the Democratic primary, Russ Carnahan.
Smith continued to take that cowardly approach during another meeting with Brown and 2004 campaign treasurer and co-conspirator Nick Adams June 30 at Smith's home, again with the FBI listening in.
Smith and Adams tag-teamed Brown to get him to lay the entire blame on Harris. Adams said, "I'm alive and Artie's dead. Can was emphasize this was Artie's deal?"
Smith added, "Artie would totally want us to throw him under the bus here."
Smith's cover-up was detailed in other conversations that were monitored by the government, as noted in another Aug. 25 Turner Report post:
Smith, not realizing his conversation was being monitored by an FBI wiretap June 1 confirmed his connection to an unsuccessful backdoor attempt to derail Russ Carnahan's successful primary bid for the House seat being vacated by Richard Gephardt.
"Did I know (Milton Ohlsen) was going to do something/" Smith told his co-conspirator, Rep. Steve Brown during the telephone conversation. "Yeah, I mean I thought he was going to do something. If I didn't think he was going to do something, hen I would have said to Artie (Harris) and Nick (Adams) don't waste your time talking to that guy."
During that conversation, which was included in documents filed today in U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Smith acknowledged he knew Brown had paid Ohlsen money for the illegal mailing:
"I vividly remember somebody being like well (Ohlsen) wants to do this, and I was like, well, f------ let him do it, sweet. And they're like, well, he's going to need the money to do it, he'll need to get it from your donors, and I said, like hopefully, my donors will give it to him."
The court documents indicate another conversation between Smith and Brown, this one face to face was also monitored. During that conversation, Smith talked about what evidence the FBI had against him "I don't think he (Ohlsen) taped any phone conversations with me. I mean, I pray he didn't. I may have had a phone conversation with him where I acknowledged what he was doing."
Smith then admitted he was fully aware of what Ohlsen was doing. "I'm assuming that I broke the law by having knowledge of what (Ohlsen) was going to do. I don't know how they could prova that."
Smith then told Brown to lie to investigators. "Don't do anything stupid," he said. "Stupid would be telling them that things that are happening in your brain."
Smith said when he was interviewed he would be "Ninety percent honest."
Another co-conspirator, former campaign treasurer Nick Adams also filed sealed documents late last month disputing the recommendations of his pre-sentence investigation.
Sentencing for Brown, Smith, and Adams is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17, in St. Louis.
(Randy Turner's new book, Newspaper Days, is available at Amazon.com.)