TAMPA, FL – December 10, 2022 – Jeremy Brown is a retired U.S. Army Green Beret and former Republican Candidate to represent Florida’s 14th Congressional District. Jeremy served in the U.S. Army from 1992 to 2012 and retiring as a Special Forces Master Sergeant.
Brown joined the Oath Keepers organization in November 2020 and provided security at several protests and rallies, including the Stop the Steal rally on January 6, 2021. Jeremy Brown is not accused of entering the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, but prosecutors allege he was on “restricted grounds.”
In March of 2021, Jeremy Brown went public about how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) approached him and attempted to recruit and intimidate him into spying on Americans and becoming an informant for them. He released video of agents knocking on his door, as well as an audio recording of two FBI agents trying to recruit him. He informed the agents that he was recording the conversation. A transcript of that conversation can be read here 1.
The FBI first approached Mr. Brown in December of 2020 2, just prior to January 6, 2021. They claim they wanted to talk to him because of “postings that he made online.” After failing to speak with him at his home, agents called him on his cell phone and requested a meeting.
Jeremy Brown agreed to meet with the agents, and that meeting took place at a restaurant in Ibor City in December, 2020. Within 38 seconds of Brown turning on the recording device and speaking with agents, they try to convince him to infiltrate and spy on the Oath Keepers.
Mr. Brown declined to spy on the Oath Keepers and become an FBI informant. He believed that he would be punished for that decision. On September 30, 2021 FBI agents raided Jeremy Brown’s home and arrested him. This arrest was heavy-handed, with the FBI sending 20 vehicles, with DHS and Pinellas County law enforcement present for the SWAT-style raid. The initial charge was for trespassing on restricted grounds on January 6, 2021.
The FBI spent five hours searching Brown’s home and property following which several charges were filed against him. Brown was charged with two counts of unlawfully owning guns and possessing explosives, five counts of possession of classified national security documents, and one misdemeanor count of knowingly storing explosive material illegally.
Fourteen months later, the trial for that case took place last week in Tampa, with Jeremy Brown’s lawyers arguing that the FBI planted evidence. During opening remarks, his defense team promised to reveal evidence that the government targeted Brown in retaliation for his refusal to become an informant. “The evidence will show you that when Mr. Brown did not play ball with the federal agents … bad things happened,” defense attorney Roger Futerman told the jury.
Prosecutor Menno Goedman claimed that the FBI conducted a thorough search of the Brown home and property where agents discovered two illegally owned guns, two hand grenades, and a cache of classified documents from his time in service related to “sensitive military operations and procedures.”
During opening remarks, prosecutor Goedman described the FBI search:
It was in Brown’s bedroom that an agent found a rifle, its barrel cut to less than the minimum 16 inches required by federal law — a modification that would make it easier to hide. In an RV parked on the property, an agent found a shotgun — its barrel sawed off well short of the minimum 18 inches the law requires.
Near the shotgun, an agent found a black briefcase. It held a number of Brown’s personal belongings, among them a campaign sticker touting “Brown 2020,″ related to his short-lived bid for Congress. A manila folder inside held a compact disc labeled “secret” and “U.S. government property.”
On the CD, agents would find several documents dating from Brown’s time in the Special Forces. They detailed military operations in Afghanistan and other information relating to national defense. “If disclosed, the information could risk making the United States less safe.”
In the RV’s bedroom, an agent found a green tactical vest with pouches secured by Velcro straps. Opening the pouches, the agent found a pair of hand grenades. The find prompted the search team to evacuate while bomb technicians were called to secure the items. – Tampa Bay Times
Mr. Brown’s defense lawyers discussed the government recruitment attempt in opening statements, mentioning the visit in December of 2020, where the agents even suggested that Brown could “get paid,” if he helped “prevent an attack.”
Defense attorney Roger Futerman told the jury that when the FBI arrived at the Brown property to conduct their raid, they immediately turned off all video surveillance cameras on the property. He said that forensics tests the FBI conducted on the grenades revealed DNA from two different men – – neither of which was Brown, and that an animal hair found on the grenades was not a match to either of Mr. Brown’s dogs. Futerman stated that the forensics don’t lie.
On December 7, 2022 during day two of the trial, three FBI forensic agents that are “experts” trained in fingerprints, DNA, and fiber technology all testified that they could not find a match for Mr. Brown on the grenades.
Mr. Brown’s defense team contested four of the five counts that he possessed classified national security documents, some relating to the Bowe Bergdahl incident. Brown’s lawyers claim federal agents planted them on the day they arrested him.
Brown’s defense lawyer questioned FBI special agent Keith Drummer who was the “evidence custodian,” of the search about photos of the items taken by the government at the time of the raid.
The government was not able to produce a photo of the CD which they claim contains much of the secret documents Brown was charged with illegally possessing. FBI operations specialist Elyssa Gonzalez admitted that she did not see any photo of a CD when she was performing her “photo logging” duties. She did not recall ever seeing a photo of this.
Quite coincidentally, NONE of the police officers that were present for the raid on Brown’s home had functioning body cameras on that day, so there is no video of the raid itself, which would be able to prove the FBI did or did not plant evidence during the raid.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Det. Belvin Sanchez who participated in the raid and was on the scene to process evidence when he “discovered the weapons, grenades and CD inside the blue case in the RV,” he claimed.
However, upon questioning by Brown’s defense lawyers, Det. Sanchez could not recall what time he arrived on the scene, not even if it was morning, afternoon or evening. He also claimed that he did not know if anyone else had been inside the RV prior to his arrival.
Mr. Brown took the stand in his own defense for three hours on Friday. He denied knowing anything about the two grenades or the CD that allegedly contained the national security documents. Mr. Brown admitted that the two guns found at his home were his, but he maintained that owning them is not illegal and that the government’s claim they were illegal is “not consistent,” with the Second Amendment.
He testified that the report that he wrote for the U.S. Army about Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was not classified when he wrote it. He said that the document was actual a format draft of the report, essentially work product, and legitimately could not be considered classified.
Prosecutors then tried to smear Brown by bringing up an incident that allegedly took place during his time in the Army in 2011 that involved him uploading “pornography,” on a military server. AUSA Marcet claimed this led to Brown being reprimanded, and ultimately led to the end of his career.
Brown’s attorneys claim he had already been scheduled to retire and the incident had no bearing on his departure from the Army.
The trial will resume on Monday, December 12, 2022 with both sides presenting closing arguments after which the case will go to the jury for deliberations.