CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A lawyer for a woman awaiting re-sentencing with her husband for holding U.S. marshals at bay from their fortress-like home in 2007 says she is ashamed of her actions and is seeking a divorce.
Elaine Brown, now 78, was sentenced to 35 years in prison after the standoff at the couple’s 100-acre property in Plainfield, New Hampshire. Her husband, Edward Brown, received a 37-year sentence. The couple were holed up for nine months after they stopped showing up in court in the middle of their trial on tax evasion charges.
“She deeply regrets that, after a lifetime of professionalism, honesty, and hard work, she chose to follow her husband down a rabbit hole of extremism, disobedience, and ultimately, criminality,” her lawyer wrote in a federal court motion filed Thursday.
Elaine Brown, a dentist, and Edward Brown, an exterminator, were initially convicted of failing to pay taxes on $1.9 million of income over eight years. The couple said the federal income tax is unconstitutional. Their argument, repeatedly rejected by courts, was that no law authorizes the federal income tax and that the 1913 constitutional amendment permitting it was never properly ratified.
The Browns were sentenced in absentia to five years in prison. Anti-tax crusaders and out-of-state militia groups rallied to their cause before U.S. marshals posing as supporters gained entry to their home and discovered weapons, explosives and booby traps.
The couple were sentenced on the new charges in 2009. One charge against them, carrying and possessing a destructive device in connection with a crime of violence, carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years. It was vacated in light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that found the “crime of violence” term unconstitutionally vague. The Browns are scheduled for re-sentencing on their remaining counts at separate hearings on Jan. 31.
Elaine Brown’s lawyer, Jeffrey Levin, is asking that she be released and supervised following the more than 12 years she’s already served. But she could still be imprisoned for at least another decade, according to sentencing guidelines. The government hasn’t responded yet, and Edward Brown’s lawyer hasn’t filed paperwork on a revised sentence request yet.
Levin wrote that Elaine Brown’s years in prison have “chastened and humbled her.” She apologized publicly in a letter to her home paper in 2014. She has been a library clerk, volunteer and student who recently completed an 18-month multi-faith-based program for spiritual growth. She also suffers from COPD and other ailments.
Levin wrote that Elaine Brown kept in contact with Edward for many years via email, but has recently initiated divorce proceedings and “wants nothing to do with him.” Elaine Brown has declined to appear in court, while Edward Brown requested to be brought in from prison.
Elaine Brown hopes to live a quiet life with her grown children from a prior marriage. Levin wrote, “at the time she thought it was her Christian duty to stand by her husband, but understands now that she was wrong and that her loyalty to Edward was badly misplaced.”
Her children, in recent interviews with investigators, described Edward as controlling and manipulative. “Elaine was easy to sponge off of and Edward stopped working shortly after he moved in with her,” an investigator wrote, quoting Elaine’s daughter. “Elaine came from an environment where a woman is a wife and mother first. Edward took advantage of that mentality.”
A lawyer for Edward Brown said he couldn’t comment.