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Press Herald Article on Federal Child Pornography Sentence Variance in Zerillo Law Case

I hesitate to comment on this, because, while my clients know I represent those accused of crimes, they usually balk at the fact that I represent those accused of child pornography charges in the State of Maine, Federal Courts, and on appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. Child pornography defendants are extremely despised, not only by the public, but also by Congress. In federal child pornography cases especially, the Sentencing Guidelines for child pornography offenses have spiked upward. This is not due to real empirical study related to the need for these long sentences, but it is rather due to congressional mandate. This has produced ridiculous results, like the result in the case below. My client below, faced a 60 year Federal Guideline Sentence. Thankfully, some of our arguments were embraced by the Court, and Judge Hornby gave our client a 28 year sentence. But understand please, these sentences are completely skewed for no good reason. I understand that is unpopular position. Here is the article from David Hench at the Press Herald.

Child porn gets Sanford man 28 years in prison Royce Breton, 32, of Sanford, who made the images and distributed them online, will appeal. By David Hench dhench@mainetoday.com Staff Writer A Sanford man has been sentenced to 28 years in federal prison for possessing, producing and distributing child pornography. Royce Breton, 32, who had no criminal record before the convictions, is scheduled for release when he is 60 years old. He will then than have 15 years of probation. Breton actually faced a much harsher sentence -- 60 years in prison -- under federal guidelines that mandate long sentences in child pornography cases. His convictions include making a pornographic image showing an infant relative. Prosecutors say Breton produced the pornography, then distributed it via an online messenger service. More than 300 images of child pornography were found on a computer in his home. Breton's lawyer, Timothy Zerillo, said the sentencing guidelines call for what is essentially a life sentence -- far longer than is typically handed down to people convicted of murder. "It is politically expedient and advantageous to pump up child pornography sentences and that's what Congress did here," Zerillo said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Neumann recommended a sentence of between 25 and 30 years in part because of what other defendants have received in similar cases. "We recommended a sentence we thought was appropriate, reasonable and just," Neumann said. U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby said the 60-year sentence called for under the guidelines is prohibited by statute. Ultimately, he decided 340 months in prison adequately reflected the seriousness of the crime while taking into account Royce's lack of criminal history, his positive work history and his volunteer efforts in the community. "Child pornography is evil to most people ... against all our taboos of society," Hornby said. "It's very difficult to understand what happened here," he said, referring to Breton, an otherwise law-abiding and responsible citizen. Breton entered the courtroom wearing orange jail clothing, his hands cuffed behind his back. A deputy U.S. Marshall uncuffed his hands for the proceeding. He sat stoically, telling the judge he understood his rights and that his medication did not interfere with his ability to comprehend the process. However, he wiped away tears as his mother, a licensed clinical social worker, described him as a good child growing up, a Boy Scout who was on the swim team, who grew into a respected worker at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. He was working the late shift so he could take courses at the University of New England to become a doctor, and he also volunteered with the Sanford Fire Department, Christine Fournier said. "He can still be a very worthwhile, productive part of society," she said. But prosecutors read another statement, one from a woman described only as "Cindy." She was described as a victim of Breton because he possessed and distributed images of her as a child, being sexually abused. That person is now an adult, but she and prosecutors say she is victimized every time someone views and shares those images. "Being sexually abused is something you never forget, no matter how hard you try. But when you have photographs of your abuse on the Internet, presently being viewed by others, it makes it even more impossible to keep it in your past and move on from it," she said. "It is like the abuse is still happening." At one point, she was notified whenever police would find her images on a person's computer. But it happened so often it made it worse, she said. "Instead of seeing a girl being used and abused in that picture or pictures, these men decide they would rather revictimize me by using the pictures for their own sick sexual desires, and trade them with others so they can do the same," her statement said. Hornby agreed that the woman was entitled to $2,730 to cover some of the health care and counseling expenses she has endured. The images of Cindy have been widely distributed among people who collect child pornography, and her lawyer, Thomas Watson, said he has sent her victim's statement and request for restitution to prosecutors for hundreds of cases just in the past year. "It's been eye-opening how many people are charged with her images," Watson said. "The defendants such as this guy always say 'I'm just one out of hundreds of guys looking at this. What harm am I doing?' " "You are part of a huge group of people and you're contributing to the problem just as the next guy that's looking at the pictures," he said. Breton will appeal his conviction to the First Circuit Court of Appeals and may also appeal the sentence, Zerillo said. Zerillo believes at some point the sentencing disparity between child pornography and other serious, often violent crimes, will reach the Supreme Court. Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: dhench@pressherald.com
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