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Former Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith, Former Missouri State Representative Mark Brown, and Nicholas Adams Sentenced on Federal Obstruction Charges

U.S. Attorney’s Office November 17, 2009
  • Eastern District of Missouri

ST. LOUIS, MO—Smith, Brown and Adams were sentenced on federal obstruction charges involving their conspiracy and attempt to obstruct a Federal Election Commission proceeding from July 2004 through December 2007, Acting United States Attorney Michael W. Reap announced today. Additionally, Smith and Adams were sentenced resulting from their pleas to federal obstruction charges involving their conspiracy and attempt to obstruct a Federal Grand Jury proceeding from June 1, 2009 through July 15, 2009.

Jeff Smith was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, and a fine of $50,000; Mark Brown was sentenced to two years of probation, and a fine of $40,000; and Nicholas Adams was sentenced to two years of probation, and a fines of $5,000.

"It's a shame that not a single one of these three men, who had great potential to serve, recognized that cheating is wrong," said Roland J. Corvington Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in St. Louis. "Instead of initially admitting their mistake which would've likely led to a fine, they are now convicted felons for lying to the FBI."

During August 2004, a primary election was held to nominate candidates for the 3rd District of Missouri United States Congressional seat vacated by Richard Gephardt. Along with eight others, Russ Carnahan and Jeff Smith were Democratic candidates in that primary. Russ Carnahan won that primary election, with Jeff Smith placing second in the balloting among Democratic candidates. Russ Carnahan went on to win the general election for United States Congress during November 2004.

Jeff Smith’s campaign committee during the 2004 primary election was known as “Friends of Jeff Smith.” Steve Brown, a close and personal friend of Smith, provided substantial support, advice, and assistance to Smith and the Friends of Jeff Smith committee during Smith’s 2004 campaign for the Democratic nomination for United States Congress. During July 2004, Jeff Smith, the Jeff Smith committee, along with Steve Brown coordinated the funding, production and distribution of negative campaign mailings aimed at Russ Carnahan through John Doe. These negative mailings did not identify Jeff Smith or his campaign committee.

Thereafter, the Russ Carnahan for Congress committee, acting upon information it had obtained, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that the Friends of Jeff Smith committee had violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and Commission regulations relative to the printing and distribution of the negative advertisement postcards. The Federal Election Commission opened an investigation.

On September 8, 2004, Jeff Smith submitted a false sworn affidavit to the Federal Election Commission, falsely representing he had no knowledge of who was responsible for the negative mailings, nor who paid for the mailing. During 2006, Jeff Smith and Steve Brown schemed to convince John Doe to testify falsely before the Federal Election Commission and to keep their names out of his testimony. John Doe did, in fact, lie to the FEC as requested by Smith and Brown. Thereafter, Jeff Smith schemed with Steve Brown, Nick Adams, and Artie Harris to further conceal their crime from the FEC. During March, 2007, both Artie Harris and Nick Adams were interviewed by the Federal Election Commission and also falsely denied any involvement in the production, funding, and distribution of those negative mailings.

On December 10, 2007, the General Counsel for the Federal Election Commission issued its final report recommending that the investigation into the Carnahan committee allegations concerning the 2004 postcards be closed, and that no action be taken against the Friends of Jeff Smith committee or any individuals. The closing of the FEC investigation was the direct result of Jeff Smith and Steve Brown’s scheme to conceal their criminal conduct. Following the issuance of the December 10, 2007 final report, Bown and Smith met to review and discuss the report’s findings, and agreed that they “got lucky” that the Federal Election Commission had not been able to uncover their involvement in the anti-Carnahan postcards.

Additionally, as admitted to by Smith and Adams during their pleas; during January 2009, the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI, acting upon newly discovered information, opened a federal criminal investigation into the original allegations raised by the Carnahan Campaign Committee and investigated by the FEC, as well as to determine whether any individuals had attempted to obstruct that Federal Election Commission proceeding. Smith and Nick Adams conspired to obstruct the Federal Grand Jury proceeding by preventing the flow of information to federal law enforcement authorities through false statements and false representations.

On June 30, 2009, Smith was interviewed by FBI Agents. During the interview, Smith made numerous false statements and false representations. The same day Adams was also interviewed and made numerous false statements and false representations as well. After the FBI interviews that morning Smith, Adams and Brown met to discuss the interviews, and to discuss what Brown should say if he were to be interviewed by the FBI. Finally, in order to conceal their future discussions from the FBI, and in furtherance of the conspiracy, Smith and Adams agreed to purchase and recommunicate only through “pay as you go” cellular telephones.

Jeff Smith, 35, St. Louis City, and Nicholas Adams, 29, University City, MO, pleaded guilty in August, to two felony counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Mark Steven Brown, 42, Clayton, MO, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. All three defendants appeared before United States District Judge Carol E. Jackson, in federal District Court, in St. Louis.

Reap commended the work on the case by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith, who is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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