Special forces sniper Gabriel Brown given short prison term after citing PTSD in series of robberies

TAMPA - "He wasn't just a soldier. He was a super soldier - an elite fighter," said defense attorney Jose Baez.

Gabriel Brown is a highly decorated combat war veteran. He is a former Special Forces Green Beret awarded a bronze star for serving as a sniper in Afghanistan.

A hero until he came home.

"Because of his illness, he had a downward spiral," said Baez.

Brown pleaded guilty to robbing four Tampa Bay businesses while tossing military flash grenades and carrying a gun. He faced a maximum of 32 years in federal prison for his crimes.

"I do believe that veterans do need treatment. Instead of being incarcerated, they need mental health treatment and drug abuse treatment," said ex wife Maria Suarez.

Suarez says post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD and an addiction to adrenaline took over her ex husband's life.  Brown failed out of nursing school, lost money at poker tables, cheated on his wife, abused drugs and became suicidal.

Still Suarez voiced support on the steps of the federal courthouse.

"He's a loving man, very caring, great father, always involved with his childrens' life, very family oriented, just fell into some depression or PTSD," she said.

Brown penned apology letters to his victims writing: "The adrenaline I got from committing robberies was some kind of weird addiction that I so desperately needed to get myself out of this depressive state" and "I know that there are no excuses for what I have done but I need you to understand that I had no intentions of harming you."

Thursday a judge showed him mercy and handed down five years.

"I think it's more than fair, you know, after gain time and everything like that, he could be looking to come home in three years," said Baez.

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