Matthew Warren Brown, the son of prominent defense attorney Warren Brown, was sentenced Thursday to two years in a prostitution case.

The son of a prominent defense attorney received a two-year sentence Thursday for prostituting three teenage girls in Baltimore County.

Matthew Warren Brown, 27, pleaded guilty in February to one misdemeanor count of prostitution-business for profiting from three teenage girls — ages 14, 16, and 17, according to the state's attorney's office.

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On Thursday, he appeared in court in a plaid blazer and thick-rimmed glasses, and apologized to his family.

"I wanted to say I am sorry to my family" and the court, Brown said.

In announcing the sentence, Circuit Judge Robert E. Cahill Jr. cited a letter to the court from Brown's father, defense attorney Warren Brown. Cahill noted a line from the letter in which Brown wrote of his son's potential but that he continued to associate with people who are bad influences. Cahill said the comment weighed particularly on him because he thought highly of Warren Brown and his integrity in the courtroom.

"He still thinks you are running with the wrong people," Cahill told the younger Brown.

Warren Brown did not attend the hearing and did not respond to a phone call seeking comment Thursday afternoon.

Cahill also noted Matthew Brown's promising future, given his education and athletic abilities that nearly blossomed into a career in the National Football League. He said many other defendants pass through his courtroom but do not have the advantages Brown has been afforded.

"You are a total minority," Cahill said.

Brown graduated from the Peddie School, a private New Jersey boarding school, and nearly completed a degree in communications at Temple University, where he was a running back on the football team. Brown had a B average but left one semester before graduation because he was recruited by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, his attorney, Timothy M. Gunning said. Brown was cut by the Bucs, but continued his career in the Canadian Football League until he was cut by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, he said. Although he went on to play for another Canadian football team, Brown felt his career was ending and became depressed and adrift, Gunning said.

Gunning said his client has also experienced trauma throughout his life, contributing to depression and long-term anxiety. This month, Brown was with his stepbrother, Louis Cody-Dorsey Young, 22, who was the unintended target of a shooting at a Baltimore gas station. Brown had been pumping gas when Young was killed. Baltimore police announced an arrest Monday in the killing.

Brown has also lost his stepmother and cousin to violence, and an older brother in an accidental shooting, Gunning said.

Brown was charged in March 2015 after police investigated an ad for prostitution at the Best Western Hotel in Woodlawn, according to court documents. A detective went to the hotel after finding a listing on Backpage.com, which was later forced to shut down its adult section amid government pressure over the concern of underage sex trafficking on the site.

A police officer met three teenage girls inside a hotel room who asked for money in exchange for sex, court documents said. The girls told investigators that Brown was their pimp and profited from their prostitution. He had been seated in a parked Mercedes-Benz outside the hotel, court documents said.

Detectives later searched Brown's phone and found a screenshot of a confirmation of an upload to Backpage.com and also text messages "indicative of prostitution," on his phone, the documents said.

Assistant State's Attorney Stacy Amparo argued for a five-year sentence, three years above the top of the sentencing guidelines, because of the age of the victims.

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"These young girls were easy targets," she told the judge. She noted that in one text message from one girl to Brown, she asked him "when are we going to get started tonight? I have school in the morning," the message said, according to Amparo. Amparo argued that many people experience trauma in their lives but do not commit such acts that take advantage of such vulnerable victims.

"These cases call for punishment," she said.

Gunning, who asked for a suspended sentence, said his client planned to finish his degree at Coppin State University and play for another Canadian football team that has recruited him. He also noted that his co-defendant's case had been dismissed. He said that Brown has a separate robbery charge that is pending in Baltimore but that his client is innocent in that case.

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