A 27-year-old man who twice threatened the life of a federal judge in letters mailed in 2010 was spared a lengthy prison sentence after apologizing Tuesday in U.S. District Court for making the “childish threats.”
Mario Dominic Brown was sentenced to five years of probation for one federal count of mailing threatening communications. He pleaded guilty in November to the federal charge, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
“Since the time of the offense, I have been trying to make a change,” Brown told District Judge Patrick Michael Duffy in the moments before his sentence was announced.
“I sincerely apologize to the court for making these childish threats. ... I hope, wish and pray that you will find compassion in your heart to give me a second chance,” Brown said.
Brown targeted David Norton, a U.S. District Court judge who serves in Charleston, out of revenge for perceived wrongs against him and his family over the course of several years, prosecutors had alleged.
“Now the ENTIRE Federal Judicial System, 4th District of South Carolina, must PAY!,” read one letter that Brown mailed while serving a 12-year stint in state prison. “You got exactly two (2) weeks to find which Federal Court Building will be blown off the face of this earth, along with every one inside, and you all will die. ... If you can’t find it, then you will all be sentenced to DEATH! To put it in your own words, THIS COURT IS ADJOURNED!”
A second letter alleged that a contract had been placed on Norton’s life, authorities said.
Brown sent the letters at a time when he was “filled with anger, rage and frustration,” he said. He showed the judge certificates of completion for anger management classes and mental health treatment that he said helped turn his life around.
Brown was 16 years old when he was first imprisoned, and he’s spent his entire adult life behind bars, said attorney Stephen Inman, who prosecuted the case. Additional prison time would serve little purpose, Inman said, considering Brown hasn’t made any other threats in the five years since the letters were sent.
John Robert Haley, an attorney for Brown, agreed, saying Brown would be better placed in a halfway home as he’s ready to transition back into society.
Brown had little familial support since he first entered the system, Haley said, and he’s worked hard to overcome mental health issues that went untreated until recent years.
In some ways, Haley said, “Mr. Brown is as much a victim as he is a defendant. His history clearly shows that.”
Brown is expected to complete his state armed robbery sentence in April, Department of Corrections records show.
Brown will remain in custody until he can be placed in a halfway home in Charlotte so that he can be near a 10-year-old son, Duffy ordered.
He will stay in the home for six months while continuing mental health treatment, substance abuse testing and vocational training, Duffy ordered.
“I’m sorry for the difficulties that you’ve had,” Duffy said. “Life has not been fair to you. But, nonetheless, you have to keep living life.”
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.