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Ex-Rite Aid vice chairman receives 10-year sentence

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Former Rite Aid Corp. vice chairman Franklin C. Brown was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday for playing a leading role in the accounting-fraud scandal that financially crippled the nation's third-largest pharmacy retailer.

Brown, 76, said he was "deeply sorry and regretful" that people were hurt by the financial crisis but did not admit any guilt.

"Being accused and convicted of a crime has been the most painful and humbling experience of my life," he told U.S. Middle District Judge Sylvia H. Rambo. Afterward, he ignored reporters' questions.

Rambo recommended Brown, who received a pacemaker last week, be placed in a federal medical facility. She sentenced him to two years on probation after his release, fined him $21,000 and gave him until Dec. 13 to surrender. The judge did not address the prosecutors' request for $10.5 million in restitution to shareholders or the company.

Brown's attorneys said 10 years was "a de facto death sentence," and promised to appeal.

"The sentence is clearly excessive," said attorney Peter D. Goldberger afterward. "It's longer than the sentence Martin Grass got, significantly longer."

Grass, the company's former chief executive, is serving eight years after pleading guilty to conspiracy. Four others company officials also pleaded guilty as a result of the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel called Brown's sentence appropriate, and noted Grass pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigators.

"From a culpability standpoint, we believe (Brown and Grass) were in close proximity to one another," Daniel said afterward.