FEDERAL JURY CONVICTS ST. THOMAS MAN OF PRODUCTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY AND OTHER CHILD EXPLOITATION OFFENSES
St. Thomas, USVI - After a two-day trial in District Court in St. Thomas, a federal jury on Tuesday found Tony Jefferson Browne, 31, guilty of 12 counts of federal child exploitation offenses involving four girls ranging from ages 12 to 17, announced United States Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez, and Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) Commissioner Rodney Querrard, Jr.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Browne first made contact with the minor girls on Facebook, where he pretended to be a female and befriended them. After befriending the minors, Browne persuaded them to send him nude and sexually suggestive photos of themselves. After receiving the photos, Browne contacted the minors using his Facebook account “Billy Button,” and threatened to place the minors’ nude and sexually suggestive photos on the Internet if they did not send him additional photos and have sex with him. Evidence at trial also established that Browne sent images of his erect penis via Facebook and his cellular telephone to three of the minor girls, and kept pornographic images of the minor females on his cellular telephone and Facebook page.
The jury found Browne guilty of four counts of production of child pornography, one count of coercion and enticement of a minor, four counts of receipt of child pornography, and three counts of transfer of obscene material to a minor. Following his conviction, Browne was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Sentencing is scheduled for July 3, 2014.
Browne faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for each count of production of child pornography. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison for coercion and enticement. For receipt of child pornography, Browne faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each count. For transfer of obscene images to a minor, Browne faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for each count. Additionally, each count carries a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Sharpe commended the efforts of HSI and VIPD who investigated the case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Everard Potter.
Suspected child exploitation or missing children cases may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children via its toll-free 24-hour hotline at 202-514-5678, or HSI at (340)693-2250.