Judge denies former Sen. Brian Kelsey’s motion to withdraw guilty plea

An evidentiary hearing on Kelsey’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea was held at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 5:09 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Former Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey, charged with violating campaign finance laws and defrauding the Federal Election Commission, petitioned a judge Tuesday to allow him to take back his guilty plea.

However, a judge denied Kelsey’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea and dismiss the case during an evidentiary hearing. Kelsey pleaded guilty in November to violating campaign finance laws and conspiring to defraud the election commission as part of his 2016 campaign for U.S. Congress.

According to a preliminary release, Kelsey, 44, of Germantown, admitted he conspired to and did secretly funnel money from several sources, including his own Tennessee State Senate campaign committee to his federal campaign committee. In court filings, Kelsey said stress and time constraints led him to accept the plea deal agreement. Kelsey cites losing his lawyer license, the death of his father, the birth of twin sons and financial issues as the stress that led him to accept the plea agreement.

“The Plea Agreement, in this case, was hastily entered with unsure heart and confused mind and should be undone,” court documents say. “Kelsey was overwhelmed by the emotional trauma of trying to cope with his dying dad and his newborn sons. In addition, the Plea Agreement he entered into does not amount to a crime. Together, these factors constitute a fair and just reason under Rule 11(d) to withdraw the plea. Therefore, this Court should grant this Motion to Withdraw Plea and enter an Order directing the Defendant to file his proposed Motion to Dismiss within seven calendar days.”

Kelsey was originally set to be sentenced in March. He will now be sentenced in July.