Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner exits the Southern District courthouse Friday with attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)
Former Congressman and one-time New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner faced up to 10 years in prison for sending lewd texts to a minor, but under a plea deal brokered by his lawyers and the government, he may serve two years or less.
Weiner had pleaded guilty on Friday to transferring obscene material to a minor, or 18 USC §1470, before Southern District Judge Loretta Preska. He agreed not to appeal if he receives a sentence of 21 to 27 months, though the statute carries no minimum sentence, and Weiner may seek a sentence of less than 21 months.
In a written statement distributed to reporters outside the Southern District courthouse in Manhattan, Weiner’s attorney, Covington & Burling partner Arlo Devlin-Brown, said the case was resolved “on terms far less severe than could have been sought” because the case did not include “aggravating factors” that are often present in cases of this kind.
Those aggravating factors Devlin-Brown referenced in the statement may include whether there had been more than one minor victim, if the victim had been of a preadolescent age or if there was evidence that he had tried to meet the victim in the physical world, according to Daniel Silver, a partner at Clifford Chance and a former Eastern District prosecutor who was not involved with the case.
As for Weiner’s sentencing, Silver said the court will likely consider how long the conduct went on, how remorseful he appears and the steps he has taken to rehabilitate himself.
“The overarching decision for the judge is, ‘How much of a danger is he to the community in the future,’” Silver said.
Weiner’s case is not the typical fare for Devlin-Brown, who was a longtime prosecutor and served as head of the public corruption unit for the Southern District until joining Covington last year in its white-collar defense practice. He supervised the corruption cases against former New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison; and Dean Skelos, former Republican majority leader in the New York state Senate, who was sentenced to more than 5 years.
But Devlin-Brown stood at Weiner’s side as Weiner choked back tears and struggled to read aloud from a written allocution in which he described his conduct. Between January 2016 and March 2016, he shared explicit images with a 15-year-old girl and encouraged her to take part in “sexually explicit conduct.”
“I have a sickness but I do not have an excuse,” Weiner said, saying that he is currently seeking mental health treatment. He was released on a $150,000 recognizance bond, forfeited his iPhone and is required to register as a sex offender.
Assistant Southern District U.S. attorneys Amanda Kramer and Stephanie Lake are leading the prosecution of Weiner.
Weiner’s sentencing judge is Southern District Judge Denise Cote and he is scheduled to appear before her on Sept. 8.
Another factor that may be considered at sentencing, according to Silver, is Weiner’s fall from grace.
He once had a promising political career, representing parts of Brooklyn and Queens in Congress from 1999 to 2011, when he resigned after admitting that he sent a sexually explicit photo via his Twitter account.
In 2013, while running for New York City mayor, it was revealed that he continued sexting women after he left Congress. He came in fifth in a seven-way Democratic primary, getting just less than 5 percent of votes.
Weiner’s online sexual exploits may have also had an effect on Clinton’s failed bid for the White House.
FBI agents investigating if Weiner had sent explicit messages to minors seized his computer and found emails that Clinton had sent and received while secretary of state.
In the weeks before the election, then-FBI Director James Comey told Congress that agents had uncovered emails that may have been relevant to the agency’s closed investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business, which analysts say dampened her advantage in the race against Donald Trump.
Hours after he pleaded guilty, Huma Abedin, Weiner’s estranged wife and Hillary Clinton’s longtime confidant, filed for divorce in Manhattan Supreme Court, according to news reports.