Editor’s note: This article was first published in the Florida Phoenix.
Jeremy Brown, a self-described Oath Keepers member and lauded 20-year Army Special Forces soldier, was sentenced on Friday in Tampa to more than seven years in federal prison on weapons charges related to a federal investigation into his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol.
The 48-year old Brown was found guilty in December by a federal jury on six of 10 counts related to possessing illegally registered guns, explosives, and a classified Defense Department document.
Brown is one of more than 950 people who have been charged in connection with the attack at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021.
However, January 6 was never mentioned during his six-day trial last year, despite the fact that it was his arrest on accusations of trespassing near the U.S. Capitol and engaging in disorderly conduct, both federal misdemeanors, that led to the federal trial in Tampa.
Brown was arrested at his Tampa home on Sept. 30, 2021, on the charges of trespassing at the Capitol — but during a search of his RV parked on the premises of his home law that same day, enforcement officials said, they found two military grenades, two illegal guns, and the national security document.
In court, Brown admitted to owning the guns but claimed they were legal under the Second Amendment. He claimed federal agents planted the grenades and documents.
According to Brown, the document was his own “work product” related to the search for former U.S. Army infantryman Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his post in Afghanistan and was held captive by the Taliban for more than four years before eventually being recovered and given his dishonorable discharge.
Federal Judge Susan C. Bucklew sentenced Brown to 87 months in prison Friday followed by three years of supervised release. In addition, he was ordered to forfeit the unregistered devices traceable to the offense, pay child support arrears of more than $21,000, and pay a special assessment of $525.
Bucklew recommended that he serve his time at either the Pensacola Federal Correctional Institution or at the Coleman Federal Correctional Institution in Sumter County.
The 48-year-old Brown was a decorated Army veteran who earned two Bronze Stars during his 20-year military career (1992-2012). He became active with the Oath Keepers, a far-right paramilitary group, shortly after the 2020 presidential election, and that’s what led him to be outside the Capitol on Jan. 6. He never entered the Capitol and was never accused of doing anything violent that day.
Brown has been detained in the Pinellas County Jail since his arrest because a federal judge said during his initial bond hearing that he “poses a danger to law enforcement officials,” and that “no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably assure the safety of any other person and the community.”
From jail last year, Brown ran as a Republican for the Florida House District 62 seat located in parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas County against Democrat Michele Rayner-Goolsby in what was an overwhelmingly Democratic-leaning district. He lost the race in November by nearly 40 percentage points.
As his day of sentencing grew closer in recent weeks, three Republican lawmakers from Pinnellas County — U.S Reps. Anna Paulina Luna and Gus Bilirakis and state House Rep. Berny Jacques — wrote letters to the court requesting leniency for Brown.
“To my knowledge, Mr. Brown has never committed a violent crime and is known for his stellar community reputation,” Jacques wrote to Judge Bucklew on March 30. He asked that she consider his lack of a criminal record, his military service, and his “exemplary behavior” while incarcerated during the past 18 months.
Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.
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