A tax-evading man convicted of amassing an arsenal of weapons was sentenced Monday to 37 years in federal prison in a hearing punctuated by him laughing and chiding the judge and prosecutors.
An attorney for Ed Brown had argued his client suffers from a delusional disorder and asked for the minimum mandatory sentence of 30 years, saying it was enough and amounted to a life sentence for the 67-year-old Brown. Prosecutors sought a sentence of almost 50 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge George Singal found Brown competent and decided on the sentence because Brown seemed "unrepentant."
Brown had several outbursts throughout the hearing. At one point, he was removed from court when he would not be quiet during a forensic psychologist's testimony. Singal referred to him as a 6-year-old child needing a time-out.
‘Give me 500 years’
Later on, as Singal was sentencing him, Brown started laughing and said, "Give me 500 years, sir; make yourself happy." He then stood up and was escorted out of the courtroom.
Brown and his wife, Elaine, were in a nine-month standoff with authorities in 2007 after they were sentenced to five years in prison for tax evasion. U.S. marshals posing as supporters arrested them peacefully; no shots were fired. The couple were convicted of the most recent charges in July.
Elaine Brown was sentenced in October to 35 years in prison.
When it was Brown's turn to address the court, he rambled on for 45 minutes about how it was his duty to protect the U.S. Constitution and how the government has been run by Freemasons and the U.S. attorney's office since the Civil War.
"I didn't realize the criminal element was them," he said, saying more than once he wished he could've introduced evidence supporting his arguments.
"We haven't hurt a soul," Brown said of himself and his wife. "They attacked us. We didn't attack them."
He added, "We just asked a question: Show me the law about taxes from Day 1."
Brown began his statement by saying that no one really knew who the real Ed and Elaine Brown were, except a few supporters in court. During the sentencing, he nodded at Marie Miller of Farmington, who said she's a longtime friend of the Browns.
"My heart aches over this travesty," Miller said. "They are very lovely people." She added that she did not think the trial was fair and hopes to visit Elaine Brown in federal prison. "This is a sad day."
‘This is war now, folks’
During the trial, Ed Brown testified that the weapons were for self-defense and the explosives in the woods around their home were to scare intruders, not harm them. But in a radio interview during the standoff, he said if authorities came to kill him or arrest him "the chief of police in this town, the sheriff, the sheriff himself will die. This is war now, folks."
The Browns were convicted of conspiracy to prevent their arrests, conspiracy to forcibly resist arrest, possessing weapons and explosives "in furtherance of crimes of violence," being felons in possession of firearms, obstruction of justice and failure to appear for sentencing. Ed Brown also was convicted to appear at his tax evasion trial.
Court documents showed that the couple's Plainfield home, to which they invited anti-government supporters, was defended by concrete walls, homemade bombs, semiautomatic, assault-type rifles strategically placed throughout the house; 60,000 rounds of ammunition; and metal cans of gunpowder with fuses, some wrapped in nails intended to become shrapnel.
Singal said he had no doubt that Brown would've killed authorities if he had the chance. He said Brown confuses the ability of people in this country to promote their own views, "with his decision that everyone agree with him."
He noted that at least four Brown supporters have been sent to prison for helping the couple resist efforts to arrest them since their convictions on tax-related felonies in January 2007.
Singal said he wished that Brown, a retired exterminator, had showed some remorse, at least for his wife, a woman "who lifted herself up by her bootstraps to become a dentist," but there was none.
Reflecting on the saying that everyone has 15 minutes of fame, Singal said Brown, unfortunately, was "reveling" in his.