Former Tennessee state Sen. Brian Kelsey has asked a judge to allow him to avoid reporting to federal prison until a higher court rules on his appeal, the latest legal maneuver in his lingering campaign finance case.
Kelsey, through his attorneys, now argues government prosecutors violated their plea agreement — the same plea agreement Kelsey fought to renege on after claiming he’d made a mistake in pleading guilty to federal campaign finance crimes.
Kelsey, R-Germantown, has asked for bail pending the results of his appeal, in which he plans to argue he is eligible to withdraw his plea deal from the case because the plea agreement was breached.
A federal judge in May didn’t buy Kelsey’s arguments that the trained lawyer and high-ranking lawmaker didn’t fully understand the consequences of his plea deal. The judge did not allow Kelsey to change his plea. The former Senate Judiciary Committee chair was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to report in October.
Kelsey’s new attorney, Alex Little, argued in a new filing this week that prosecutors breached their plea agreement by “advocating” during the sentencing hearing for an upward adjustment under federal sentencing guidelines, the equation that determines the sentencing range a judge should consider for a defendant.
Prosecutors had argued Kelsey’s sentencing range should be increased for obstruction of justice, pointing to Kelsey’s conflicting testimonies made under oath of his guilt and then his innocence of the charges.
Kelsey has notified an appellate court of his plans to appeal his sentence but has not yet filed an appeal.
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