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Anna Paulina Luna asks for lesser sentence for Tampa Bay Jan. 6 protester

Luna’s office noted her letter was not about charges directly related to the Capitol riot.
 
Jeremy Brown outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to federal prosecutors.
Jeremy Brown outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to federal prosecutors. [ U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ]
Published March 29, 2023|Updated April 5, 2023

U.S. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna on Friday wrote a letter asking a judge to take “leniency” when considering the sentence of Jeremy Michael Brown, a Tampa Bay man who appeared at the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol with the extremist Oath Keepers group.

In September, federal agents searched Brown’s Hillsborough County property as part of an inquiry into the Jan. 6 events. Agents found two illegal guns, a pair of hand grenades and a classified military document, among other things. (Brown is a former U.S. Army Special Forces master sergeant.)

In a December trial, Brown faced 10 federal charges. A jury convicted Brown of six of them and acquitted him of the other four. Federal prosecutors are recommending he get nine years in prison — the high end of the recommended federal sentencing range for those charges for someone with no prior criminal history like Brown.

Luna, a Republican first-term member of Congress from St. Petersburg, argued in her letter that the judge should give Brown less time than that.

“Mr. Brown is a non-violent criminal who has embraced his failure and shown his willingness to rehabilitate and become a productive member of society,” Luna wrote to federal District Judge Susan Bucklew.

The letter appears on U.S. House of Representatives letterhead.

A spokesperson for Luna said Brown’s charges are not directly related to his activities on Jan. 6.

“Rep. Luna would prefer not to get involved in the justice system, but in this case, the reports of the sentencing that Brown faces were unconscionable and she felt compelled to ask the judge to consider the totality of Brown’s service to our nation and consider some leniency in issuing his final sentence,” the spokesperson, Edie Heipel, said in a text message.

Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor, who represents Tampa and parts of St. Petersburg, is Brown’s representative in Congress.

Luna’s message is the latest in a public campaign by Brown and others against the government’s prosecution. Brown unsuccessfully ran in 2022 for the Florida House from jail using campaign signs that read “Inmate #1875858 Brown for Florida State House 2022.″ He frequently gave phone interviews from the Pinellas County Jail, where he was being held. He once told the conservative political operative Roger Stone in an interview that the government planted the evidence they found on his property.

Federal prosecutors say Brown deserves nine years because he abused the trust placed in him by the U.S. Army.

“At trial, the defendant lied extensively under oath, falsely testifying that the stolen grenades were not his and that the stolen classified document was not, in fact, classified,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo filed Friday.

In response, Brown’s legal team cited Luna’s letter as evidence of Brown’s character. They argued he deserves less than the 87 to 108 months suggested by sentencing guidelines. They disputed the idea that Brown lied at his trial when he testified on his own behalf. And they clarified his participation in events of Jan. 6.

“Mr. Brown lawfully attended a public rally and was working a volunteer position at the rally in which he provided security,” his team wrote in a defense memo.

Times staff writer Dan Sullivan contributed to this story.