TEAMWORK BETWEEN STATE AND FEDERAL AGENTS NETS SUBSTANTIAL SENTNECES FOR EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN CRIMES
On September 20, 2019, in the District of Wyoming, JUSTIN DAVID BROWN, age 27 of Riverton, Wyoming was sentenced to seven hundred twenty months in prison followed by lifetime-supervised release after pleading guilty to two counts of Production of Child Pornography. On January 4, 2019, the US Department Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Casper, Wyoming office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Lander, Wyoming office and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Riverton and Casper, Wyoming offices arrested Justin David Brown, a registered sex offender, for federal violations of Production and Distribution of Child Pornography in Riverton, Wyoming.
On January 4, 2019, FBI Lander requested the assistance of HSI and DCI on an investigative lead they received from another FBI Field Office. Initial information indicated that Brown had produced and distributed child pornography to at least one suspect on the east coast. Within hours of receiving the initial lead information, Agents from HSI, FBI and DCI worked collaboratively to rescue a victim and apprehend Brown. During a post arrest interview, Brown admitted to sexually abusing a young toddler, producing images and videos of the abuse, and distributing those to others with an interest in the sexual exploitation of children. In addition, Brown admitted to seeking out and communicating with numerous other individuals about the sexual abuse of children.
Brown consented to law enforcement assuming his online identity and as a result, Agents identified offenders within Wyoming and other jurisdictions who committed crimes against children and were charged and sentenced in U.S. District Court, including:
ROBERT WILLIAM COTTER, 35, of Casper, Wyoming, who was sentenced on July 17, 2019, for Production of Child Pornography. Cotter was sentenced to two hundred ten months of imprisonment, to be followed by lifetime-supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,500, a $100 special assessment and $500 special assessment pursuant to the Victims of Sex Trafficking Act.
DAVID THOMAS WILLIAMS, 36, of Laurel, Montana, who was sentenced on August 13, 2019, for Attempted Online Enticement of a Minor. Williams was sentenced to one hundred fifty months of imprisonment, to be followed by 120 months of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $138 and a $100 special assessment.
WILLIS STEVEN SMITH, 24, formerly of Lyman, Wyoming, who was sentenced on September 18, 2019 for Aiding and Abetting the Production of Child Pornography. Smith was sentenced to one hundred eighty months of imprisonment, to be followed by one hundred twenty months of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $138.00, a $100.00 special assessment, and a $400 special assessment pursuant to the Victims of Sex Trafficking Act.
Assistant United States Attorneys Stephanie A. Hambrick and Timothy J. Forwood and the United States Attorney for the District of Wyoming, Mark A. Klaassen, prosecuted these cases. In regards to the investigation and sentences Klaassen stated, “My office remains committed to protecting our communities from individuals like these, who are involved in the production and sharing of child pornography. Their conduct victimizes innocent children, the most vulnerable among us, and we must do all we can to prevent and deter this crime.”
DCI and HSI, along with law enforcement agencies throughout the state of Wyoming, work together as part of the Wyoming Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
This case is part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation an abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.