Former Police officers Francis Brooks and Enid Edwards left District Court Thursday in the custody of the Bureau of Corrections to begin serving what amounts to 12 1/2 years in jail for their convictions on numerous counts relating to public corruption and misuse of authority as law enforcement officers.
Both Brooks and Edwards used their court time to protest their innocence of all charges, to proclaim they didn’t even know most of the witnesses who testified against them and to declare they had not had a fair trial.
The statements prompted prosecutor Kim Lindquist to call them “incorrigible” and District Court Judge Curtis Gomez to lament their “lack of remorse” and failure to take responsibility for their crimes.
“My hope is that there will be some period of reflection here,” Gomez told the pair.
Gomez actually imposed three sentences on each defendant: 151 months (12 1/2 years) for the set of the most serious federal charges, 60 months (five years) for the set of the less serious federal charges, and five years for the local charges. All sentences will run concurrently, however, meaning the total time in jail will be 12 1/2 years. With the federal convictions, there is no parole.
The judge did not fine either defendant. However, by virtue of the types of convictions, each must pay money to the government. Jointly they must pay $11,700 as a forfeiture, and each must pay $800 in what is called a “special assessment” comprised of $100 per federal conviction.
Additionally, Edwards must pay $37,400 as a result of her conviction for “structuring” funds.
The government had asked for the maximum allowable sentence for both, which would have been 188 months (15 1/2 years) incarceration, and for a $175,000 fine against Edwards in addition to the payments.
U.S Attorney Ronald Sharpe spoke with reporters outside the courtroom following the sentencing. Asked if his office believes justice was served, he said the question is better put to the citizens of the territory. “If they’re satisfied, we’re satisfied.”
The result of an investigation into public corruption conducted jointly by numerous federal and local agencies, the case has been protracted and highly publicized.
Brooks and Edwards were convicted in January 2011 on more than 20 counts each including racketeering, drug trafficking and extortion over a period of several years, involving numerous incidents.
Gomez overruled the jury on several counts, but let the majority stand. Sentencing had been delayed by a series of defense motions and for Brooks to travel to Florida for medical treatment. They had been under house arrest awaiting sentencing.
In May a third defendant in the case, former Port Authority law enforcement officer Bill John-Baptiste, was sentenced to five years on a kidnapping conviction involving a single incident which included a pay-off to Brooks and Edwards.
Defense attorneys George Hodge, representing Brooks, and Jay Shreenath, representing Edwards, both said they will file appeals.
Shreenath said Edwards was working overtime and moonlighting as a security guard in order to provide a house for her elderly parents. Her father is now deceased, he said, but she helps take care of her mother. “She’s been a diligent police officer” since 1989 and had no complaints against her, her attorney said.
Brooks said he was on the force for 24 years. Hodge told the Court that Brooks is supposed to return to the States for more treatment of a brain tumor and that he has suffered complications from recent treatments. He has seven children ages 3 to 18 who depend on his care, his attorney said.
Both Hodge and Shreenath asked for their clients to remain out of jail on bail while the appeals are pending. Or barring that, Shreenath asked if Edwards could have about a week to get her personal effects in order.
Gomez denied those motions. He said while he accepts that neither is a flight risk, sentencing guidelines would allow the action only if it seems likely an appeal will be heard and result in eliminating incarceration. “The Court is not convinced that that showing has been made,” he said.
The sentencing hearing lasted about three hours Thursday, with much of the time spent arguing the merits of various recommendations in the presentencing report.
Lindquist argued that Edwards was more culpable than Brooks, saying that in their partnership, “Ms. Edwards played a leadership role.” The comments prompted Edwards, seated at the defense table, to shake her head “no.”
Gomez disagreed with Lindquist, saying that in some of the incidents Edwards was “in the engineer’s seat,” and in others Brooks was.
In an apparent move to show Edwards has some non-liquid assets, Lindquist called one witness, real estate appraiser Samuel Torchia, who testified that he was hired by First Bank to appraise the house Edwards was building in 2009, and then to appraise it again in February 2011. By the time of the second appraisal, there were two finished apartments on the first floor and the upstairs was not finished. Torchia put the current value at something between $900,000 and $1 million, but definitely not over a million.
“We’re looking at a well over 5,000 square-foot house,” he said. However, he suggested it was “overbuilt” for the neighborhood. “Sometimes bigger isn’t necessarily better.”