By Kevin Wilson
CNJ staff writer
A federal judge who ruled a Clovis couple must write a letter of apology as part of sentencing for bilking the Air Force out of $3.2 million has rejected a submitted draft, and told the couple to do it correctly or prepare for federal prison, according to court records.
In April, a jury convicted Donald Dean Brewer and wife Sherri Lynn Brewer, both 64, of 16 counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud and major fraud against the United States. Prosecution said the Brewers, former owners of Brewer Jeep and Brewer Mitsubishi in Clovis, and James McKinney of San Antonio, created a sham subcontracting business in 2003 that provided no useful service but forced overcharges on prime contractors. McKinney was also convicted.
In all, $6.4 million was stolen.
Additionally, Biery denied a motion submitted on behalf of Donald Brewer asking for $564,000 of the stolen money to pay attorney fees. The Brewers paid a “nationally known” law firm approximately $1.6 million out of the stolen money for representation, Biery wrote in rejecting the motion.
The money used to pay legal fees would have belonged to the Brewers with an acquittal, Biery said, but the convictions meant the money was never legitimately theirs.
“In hindsight, the Brewers could have put the disputed assets in trust until the end of the criminal litigation, and probably would have qualified for court-appointed counsel,” Biery wrote. “In doing so, they would have received similarly excellent representation from San Antonio lawyers at $125 per hour, and the taxpayers would have another $1 million available for restitution.”
“Having rolled the dice and lost, the Brewers now want American taxpayers to pay their gambling loss.”
In late June, Judge Fred Biery spared the Brewers a prison sentence, instead opting for lifetime supervision and a requirement the couple write a letter admitting their crimes that is published in the Clovis News Journal. The couple was also required to pay restitution, and stripped of all assets and equities except for one automobile.
At the time of the sentencing, according to the San Antonio Express-News, Biery said, “It better be a real strong confessional. It better say, ‘I am a liar. I am a thief. I betrayed my friends. I betrayed the United States.’”
Biery noted it was an unusual sentence and probably illegal under federal statute.
Biery’s ruling, filed Monday in San Antonio, indicates the letter presented by counsel did not meet the standard.
“While the Court realizes defendants are awaiting notification of whether the United States will appeal the Court’s sentencing decision, the draft letter submitted by counsel is totally unacceptable,” Biery wrote. “If necessary, the Court will refresh defendants’ memories as to the specific evidence of their lies and misdeeds shown by the evidence in the record.”
If a letter is not approved by the court, warrants would be issued for the Brewers to return to San Antonio for revocation of probation proceedings and federal prison sentencing, Biery wrote.
A copy of the rejected letter was not included in the filing sent to the CNJ from the court.
CNJ Publisher Ray Sullivan said Monday he is not aware of any such letter from the Brewers arriving at the newspaper’s office.
According to the filing, the Brewers used the money on vehicles, homes, an airplane and the purchase of the S&S Supermarket in Clovis. Additionally, according to the filing, Sherri Brewer was paid $7,000 per month for retirement with no evidence presented that she ever worked at the store.
Attempts to contact lawyers for the Brewers on Monday were unsuccessful.