TAMPA — Jeremy Brown, the retired U.S. Army Special Forces master sergeant ensnared in a federal investigation of the events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, received a sentence of seven years in federal prison Friday for having two illegal guns, a set of hand grenades and a classified military document at his Tampa home.
Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew also ordered Brown to complete three years of supervision upon his release, with a condition that he undergo an evaluation for mental health treatment.
The prison sentence, which totaled 87 months, came after the judge spoke of Brown’s 20 years of service as a Green Beret, but also his actions since his retirement, which she said demonstrated Brown put himself above the law.
“You’ve accepted no responsibility for what you’ve done in this case,” Bucklew said. “And you are defiant to the end.”
Clad in baggy orange pants and an orange jail shirt, Brown addressed the judge for close to 15 minutes before he was sentenced. In lofty rhetoric that detailed his military background and referenced the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, the Declaration of Independence and the judge’s own legal career, Brown accused the government of deceiving the court and targeting him.
“My service cannot be tarnished by lesser men,” he said, looking at the prosecutors.
He mentioned his connection to Jan. 6, 2021, suggesting the events of that day were orchestrated by the FBI.
“The truth will come out,” he said of his case.
Brown, 48, was arrested in the fall of 2021 after federal agents executed a search warrant at the Palm River-area home where he lived with his girlfriend. The warrant had to do with an investigation of Brown’s ties to the Oath Keepers and their involvement in the events of Jan. 6, when a mob in support of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building and disrupted certification of the 2020 presidential election results.
In the search of Brown’s home and a recreational vehicle on the property, agents found a sawed-off shotgun and a short-barreled rifle, which were not registered in a federal database as is required when such weapons are modified. They also found a tactical vest that held two hand grenades.
They also found a printed “trip report,” authored by Brown during his time in the Special Forces, which detailed a search for missing soldier Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan. The report contained information deemed sensitive to national security and was thus classified.
In a weeklong trial in December, Brown’s defense argued that the CD and hand grenades were planted by government agents. He testified during the trial, admitting the guns were his and that he wrote the trip report, but he claimed the information in it was not classified.
A jury convicted Brown on six federal charges for the guns, the grenades and the trip report.
But the jury found him not guilty on four other charges related to several other classified documents saved on a CD labeled “secret,” which agents also found in his belongings. Brown said he’d never seen the CD before.
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A sentencing memo filed by Brown’s defense asserted that he was a member of the Oath Keepers for only one month immediately after the 2020 election. His membership in the extremist group ended shortly after FBI agents came to interview him in December 2020 and attempted to recruit him to be a confidential informant, according to the memo.
The memo claims that Brown’s presence on Jan. 6 outside the Capitol, where he was photographed in combat attire, was merely as a volunteer to provide security for the rally, which escalated to a riot.
“There is no evidence that Mr. Brown participated in any violence or caused damage to any property,” the memo stated.
Brown remains charged in a separate case in Washington, D.C., with entering a restricted area and disorderly conduct. He is not accused of actually entering the Capitol building.
A vocal figure in right-wing alternative media before his arrest, Brown drew a loyal following of supporters, who staged occasional demonstrations outside the Pinellas County Jail, where he has been incarcerated for 18 months.
Brown launched an unsuccessful bid for Florida House of Representatives while he awaited trial. Before his arrest, he made a short-lived bid for Congress.
On Thursday, a third support letter came from Florida State Rep. Berny Jacques, R-Seminole. He noted Brown’s lack of a criminal record and his military service.
“I’ve been very impressed by the accounts of Mr. Brown’s great conduct while incarcerated during this case,” Jacques wrote. “Many have described Mr. Brown as a ‘model prisoner’ for leading Bible study, deescalating altercations, and for building up morale with fellow inmates by leading certain recreational activities.”
Supporters who spoke in court Friday described Brown as a family man who loves his country.
“He’s a good man,” his mother, Lisa Brown, told the judge. “And I’m so sorry that people have told you that he’s not.”
“I find Mr. Brown to be honest to a fault,” said Cathi Chamberlain, an activist and podcast host who encouraged Brown in his recent run for office. “To the thousands following his story, something feels seriously wrong with his treatment.”
Some made references to Brown’s arguments that the government had planted evidence, including the grenades, in his belongings.
Judge Bucklew called the claims “ridiculous.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Marcet argued that Brown downplayed the severity of his crimes. He put people at risk, the prosecutor said, by storing the grenades in an unsafe manner, and jeopardized national security by keeping the classified document.
Marcet accused Brown of lying on the witness stand regarding his knowledge of the items. He said Brown exploited his position in the Special Forces.
“He used that service as a sword to commit these crimes,” Marcet said. “He cannot now use it as a shield to evade punishment.”