Skip to main content
Press Release

Former U.S. Probation Officer Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison For Lying To The FBI

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota
Defendant lied about his inappropriate sexual contacts with multiple probationers under his supervision

United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald today announced the sentencing of DENNIS EDWARD BRESNAHAN, 56, a former United States Probation Officer, to 30 months in prison for making false statements to the FBI regarding his sexual exploitation of probationers. The sentence reflects a significant upward departure from the advisory sentencing guideline range of zero to six months in prison. BRESNAHAN, who pleaded guilty on March 1, 2019, was sentenced today before Judge Robert W. Pratt in U.S. District Court in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Before handing down the sentence, Judge Pratt remarked that this case “exemplifies public corruption and disrespect for the law,” and defined BRESNAHAN’s inappropriate sexual conduct as “loathsome and appalling.”

United States Attorney Erica MacDonald stated, “Mr. Bresnahan abused the trust of the Court, the probation office, and the community when he sought to gratify his own sexual desires at the expense of the probationers under his supervision. His deplorable actions brought harm not only to his victims, but also violated the public’s trust and undermined the integrity of the judicial system.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Allyn said, "The defendant’s despicable conduct would never have come to light but for the women who courageously spoke out about what they endured. Today the Court sent a strong message that those who would abuse their protected position of power will still be held accountable under the law."

This case demonstrates a reprehensible misuse of public trust that could have been hard to detect without the assistance of the victims,” said Jill Sanborn, Special Agent in Charge of the Minneapolis Division of the FBI. “This is an example of why public corruption is a top criminal priority for the FBI as it erodes public confidence and undermines the strength of our democracy. We are grateful to the victims for bravely coming forward to help us in this investigation,” she said.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, for more than twenty-five years, and until August 22, 2016, BRESNAHAN was employed as a United States Probation Officer for the District of Minnesota. In his role, BRESNAHAN was responsible for supervising and maintaining communication with defendants on federal pretrial and supervised release. BRESNAHAN also had access to medical records, financial records, email accounts, home addresses, and other personal information belonging to individuals under his supervision. Beginning in early 2015, BRESNAHAN began engaging in sexually inappropriate conduct with an individual (identified as “Witness A”) under his supervision, including repeated phone and email discussions of a sexual nature.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, on August 22, 2016, FBI agents interviewed BRESNAHAN regarding both his sexually inappropriate conduct in his role as a United States Probation Officer and his relationship with Witness A. BRESNAHAN admitted to engaging in sexually inappropriate behavior and to receiving one topless photograph from Witness A. When FBI agents asked BRESNAHAN whether he had asked for additional sexual photographs from Witness A, BRESNAHAN lied and said that he had not. FBI agents then asked BRESNAHAN if he had engaged in any similar inappropriate sexual conduct with other probationers, including asking for sexual photographs, to which BRESNAHAN again lied and claimed that he had not. However, upon further investigation, it was revealed that BRESNAHAN had in fact asked for sexual photographs from other probationers, specifically an individual identified as Witness B. Witness B was under BRESNAHAN’S supervision from July 2013 until approximately February 2014. During that time, BRESNAHAN engaged in multiple email exchanges of a sexual nature with Witness B, including extremely explicit conversations about specific sex acts and asking for sexual photographs. Subsequent investigation by the FBI revealed additional individuals previously supervised by BRESNAHAN, since approximately 1994, with whom he was sexually inappropriate.

This case was the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie E. Allyn and Allen A. Slaughter prosecuted the case.


Defendant Information:


Forest Lake, Minn.


  • Making false statements or representations to an agency of the United States, 2 counts


  • 30 months in prison
  • Two years of supervised release





Additional news available on our website.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600

Updated August 13, 2019