Largo Puppeteer Sentenced To 20 Years in Federal Prison
Tampa, FL - U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore today sentenced Ronald William Brown (58, Largo) to 20 years in federal prison for receipt and possession of child pornography. In addition, he was sentenced to a lifetime of supervision, following his release from prison. The court also ordered Brown to forfeit his computer equipment and phone which were used to commit the offenses. On March 25, 2013, Brown pleaded guilty to five counts of receiving child pornography and three counts of possessing child pornography.
According to court documents, approximately on May 23, 2012, Michael Arnett was arrested by Homeland Security Investigations special agents in Roeland Park, Kansas for the production of child pornography. This investigation revealed that Arnett, had images including bondage-type photographs, involving four child victims. Previously, on May 15, 2012, a search warrant had been executed at Arnett's residence and computers were seized. A forensic examination of Arnett's computers revealed that he had been communicating and exchanging child pornography materials with other individuals using online chat programs, as well as engaging in extremely graphic discussions regarding the kidnaping, sexually abuse, murder, and eating of children. One of the individuals with whom Arnett discussed these acts was Ronald William Brown.
On July 19, 2012, law enforcement agents conducted a search of Brown's residence in Largo, Florida. During the search, agents seized multiple pieces of electronic media, including, but not limited to, a computer, various CD/DVDS, micro disks, cameras and a thumb drive. A forensic review of Brown's electronic media showed that he possessed hundreds of images of child pornography and child erotica, including various images showing children being bound and tortured. Additionally, Brown had hundreds of images of deceased children. In chats with various individuals, Brown discussed abducting, torturing, and murdering children.
“Brown, a church puppeteer, lived a double life,” said Shane Folden, deputy special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Tampa. “Behind closed doors, he had a sick obsession that focused on children. Let this case be an example to other child predators. We will find you, arrest you and make sure you are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Homeland Security Investigations does not tolerate adults that prey on innocent children.”
Brown’s sentencing is part of Operation Holitna, an ongoing investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations that originated in Boston. In 2010, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts and HSI Boston arrested Robert Diduca on charges of producing child pornography. Diduca was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in federal prison in June 2012. Forensic analysis of Diduca's computer led investigators to the Netherlands where a Dutch national was arrested and charged with producing, distributing and possessing child pornography, as well as sexually assaulting 87 minors. Since that time, a worldwide network of offenders continues to be unraveled, which also included Brown. Defendants and victims continue to be identified around the world. To date, more than 160 children have been rescued and more than 50 perpetrators arrested worldwide as a result of Operation Holitna.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Amanda C. Kaiser.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.