Delaware man gets 7 1/2 years federal term for stealing congresswoman’s SUV in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Delaware man has been sentenced to 7 1/2 years in federal prison for stealing a U.S. congresswoman’s sports car in a Philadelphia park nearly two years ago.

Josiah Brown, 21, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, a Democrat, was walking to her parked car after a meeting in Roosevelt Park in South Philadelphia shortly before 3 p.m. on Dec. 22, 2021, when Brown and another person demanded her keys, police said. Police said they handed them over, and one of them drove off while the other followed in a dark-colored sports car.

Brown, then 19, said he did not know who the congresswoman was and his weapon was unloaded. He also did not know that the car contained a tracking device that quickly led authorities to his home in Wilmington. He and four juveniles were arrested at the nearby Christiana Fashion Center in Newark, Delaware, about 45 miles (74 kilometers) from Philadelphia.

Brown was charged with federal counts of carjacking and brandishing a gun during the commission of a violent crime, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years. The other teens — ages 13, 14, 15 and 16 — were charged in Delaware Juvenile Court with receiving stolen property.

Scanlon did not attend Wednesday’s hearing, but said in a letter to the judge that her sense of safety remains shaken and that she remains cautious in public. She also said she is concerned that the crime has contributed to the impression that Philadelphia is an unsafe place to visit.

Car thefts reached a record high in Philadelphia last year, with more than 1,300 cases reported, a 53% increase from 2021, and nearly six times the annual total reported three years ago, the Inquirer reported.

“The moments when my colleague and I retreated and sought cover…were certainly terrifying,” Scanlon wrote, adding that she did not know whether the defendant and his companion “were so lacking in judgment that they would shoot us while doing their job.” escape from.”

She said that while Brown must be held accountable for a “serious and criminal act,” the goals of the criminal justice system are not just punishment, but also rehabilitation and reform, “particularly for someone so young.”

Authorities said Brown wrote a letter of apology saying he was “with the wrong people at the wrong time.” Federal Public Defender Rossman Thompson said Wednesday that Brown “did everything in his power to accept full responsibility for his crimes.”

But the prosecutor said Brown was trying to shirk his responsibility.

U.S. District Judge Cynthia Roof said she believed Brown was remorseful and supported Scanlon’s motion to give him a second chance, but mandatory minimum sentencing laws require a minimum sentence of seven years.

“We cannot tolerate this in our city, in our country,” the judge said. “It can’t be normal.”

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