Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Smith, Brown sentencing less than three hours away

Former Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, will be sentenced in less than three hours for his role in obstructing a federal investigation into monkey business during Smith's unsuccessful 2006 Congressional primary campaign against Russ Carnahan.

Also scheduled to be sentenced are Smith's co-conspirators, former Rep. Steve Brown, D-St. Louis, and Smith's campaign treasurer Nick Adams.

The final few days before today's hearing have been marked by maneuvering by attorneys for the three men all carefully shielded from the public, to get them lighter sentences. The only such document filed openly, a memorandum by Brown's attorney asking for leniency, was quickly removed and shrouded with secrecy after its contents were published. The now-sealed document suggested Brown should receive a lighter sentence because he cooperated with the FBI to nail his co-conspirators

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.

In a disturbing development that was reported recently by the St. Louis Beacon, approximately a dozen legislators have asked the court to be lenient in its sentencing of Brown, all making their requests, as per usual in this case, in sealed documents, even though they are using their public positions in an attempt to influence the judge. The letters, which reportedly are among 80 written on Brown's behalf, are mentioned nowhere on the court docket, which routinely lists items received under seal:

Previous Turner Report posts on this case can be found at this link.

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