One-time Hartford city councilor Corey Brinson, convicted in a series of stock swindles that cost senior citizens around the country their life savings, persuaded a judge Monday to cut short his probation to he can reapply for a law license and earn more money with which to replay his victims.
Brinson was accused of working for a ring of market manipulators who profited by persuading unsophisticated investors to put their money in worthless stocks. He pleaded guilty to money laundering for allowing the ring leader to move more than $3 million through his law firm trust account. He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2017, ordered to pay about $1.5 million in restitution and placed on supervised release, a form of probation, for three years.
Brinson told U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer he must be off supervised release for a year before apply for reinstatement of his law license under the precedent set by another Connecticut politician and lawyer – Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim.
“Having just passed his 40th birthday, Corey Brinson’s best chance to make meaningful restitution payments in the future would come from having the opportunity to return to the practice of law sooner rather than later,” Brinson’s lawyer, Thomas Murphy, told the court in a legal filing.
Murphy notes in the filing that he is representing Brinson for free.
Brinson has been working two jobs since his release, but “they are not highly remunerative” – for him or the victims he is trying to repay, according to the legal filing.
He started a company called Second Chance Firm to advise clients seeking pardons and to counsel others on how to be “successful” in the federal prison system – where Brinson succeeded in shaving a year off his sentence by competing an alcohol rehabilitation program. Unfortunately, Second Chance “has struggled to break even,” according to the filing.
Brinson started a second job in January with the not-for-profit Legal Action Center in New York, where he is employed to lobby “governmental officials for various criminal justice reforms.” But that job, too, “pays only a modest wage that is offset by, among other expenses, significant travel costs,” according to the filing.
Federal prosecutors wanted Brinson to serve at least two of the three years of supervised release and argued that, if he wants more money for restitution, he ought to get a job that pays more. They said the average salary in Connecticut is $71,000. A truck driver makes $75,000. A sales rep earns $68,000.
“These and other more lucrative jobs could have been obtained during supervision had the defendant’s primary goal been to earn more money so as to pay more in restitution,” prosecutors wrote.
In spite of his busy work schedule, Brinson “made time in the past year” to campaign unsuccessfully for the Hartford City Council. He also is enrolled in a masters degree Human Rights and Social Justice at the UConn law school — where tuition is waived because of his military service.
Brinson is required to pay $1000 or 30 percent of his gross income each month – which ever is greater – toward restitution. He has paid $59,328.36 from May 2017 to July 2020 in installments ranging from $75 to $33,418.36. He was in compliance with all terms of his supervised release and was under a minimal level of supervision.
He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement of his law license in august 2021.
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