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By Clair McFarland
Riverton Ranger Via Wyoming News Exchange 

Four arrested in child porn bust

 

September 26, 2019



RIVERTON —A Riverton man could spend the rest of his life behind bars for producing child pornography featuring a toddler.

Justin David Brown, 27, was sentenced Sept. 20 to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of production of child pornography.

"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," a press release from the United States Attorney's Office states.

Brown was taken into custody after federal law enforcement agents received a tip about his activities.

The arrest - which took place "within hours" after the tip was received - was also a rescue mission, the release states, as agents "worked collaboratively to rescue a victim and apprehend Brown," who was a registered sex offender at the time.

After his arrest, Brown allowed federal law enforcement agents to use his internet identity in their investigations, and as a result, the agents discovered, and sentenced, other child sexual abusers and pornographers in Wyoming and elsewhere.

The attorney's office press release also lists the following convictions:

Robert William Cotter, 35, of Casper, who was sentenced to 210 months of imprisonment and a lifetime of supervised release, for production of child pornography;

David Thomas Williams, 36, of Laurel, Montana, who was sentenced to 150 months of imprisonment, to be followed by 120 months of supervised release, for attempted online enticement of a minor, and

Willis Steven Smith, 24, formerly of Lyman, who was sentenced to 180 months in prison, followed by 120 months of supervised release, for aiding and abetting the production of child pornography.

Brown's arrest involved the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations.

United States law enforcement coordinator Mark Trimble said Brown's case had interstate reach due to Brown's use of the internet as a medium for child pornography, but it is not uncommon for the FBI to adopt child pornography investigations from localized law enforcement systems regardless of the interstate reach of the crime.

Trimble noted that federal penalties in this category "have a lot more teeth" than state law and are desired by both local and federal prosecutors.

For example, the Wyoming legal statute on child pornography allows for imprisonment of between five and 12 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

"As you can see," Trimble said, "Brown was sentenced to 60 years in prison - which is a lot heavier sentence" enabled by federal prosecution.

In his interview with The Ranger, Trimble emphasized the internet's role in child pornography. His press release states that Brown's case is part of Department of Justice initiative Project Safe Childhood, which was created in 2006 "to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse."

The project "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," the release states.

"My office remains committed to protecting our communities from individuals like these, who are involved in the production and sharing of child pornography," United States Attorney Mark A. Klaassen stated. "Their conduct victimizes innocent children, the most vulnerable among us, and we must do all we can to prevent and deter this crime.”

 
 

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