Garrett Brosnan, a former Brunswick police officer who pleaded guilty to sending obscene material to a minor girl, was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Portland.
Brosnan, 25, was arrested in June after an investigation that began in October 2015, when the parents of a 13-year-old girl in Arizona complained that someone had engaged in online conversations that were sexual in nature with their daughter. According to the allegations, a Department of Homeland Security agent, posing as a 14-year-old girl, then began having online conversations with Brosnan, who, they said, sent pictures of his genitals in June.
Prosecutors had sought a sentence of at least 15 months for Brosnan. They submitted a sentencing memo that included screen shots of the conversations between Brosnan and the person he thought was a 14-year-old girl, in which he pushes repeatedly to see pictures of the girl topless or nude and accuses her of being a “tease” when she hesitates. Brosnan also allegedly sent short videos in which he winks and blows kisses.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Wolff said the exchanges clearly show that Brosnan thought the girl was 14 in the online conversations. At one point, the agent referred to having an upcoming eighth-grade graduation ceremony. Wolff also said that Brosnan pressured the girl for nude photos, saying he loved her or would cut off the conversations if she didn’t send pictures.
Brosnan’s attorney, Michael A. Cunniff, told District Judge Jon Levy that his client had taken responsibility for what he had done by pleading guilty in June, getting counseling and resigning from his position as a police officer.
In a brief statement to the court, Brosnan apologized for his conduct and said he was grateful to have gotten caught because it gave him an opportunity to turn his life around.
“The guilt will be with me until the day I die,” he said.
Cunniff also told the judge that Brosnan would be “vulnerable” in jail as a former police officer, and asked for a sentence of probation or a short jail term followed by home confinement.
Levy said he was unpersuaded by that argument, saying that Brosnan’s law enforcement background actually made his behavior “more inexcusable,” although Brosnan apparently did not mention to the undercover agent that he was a police officer or use that to try to convince the “girl” to send nude photos.
Levy said federal sentencing guidelines, which take into account things like a prior criminal record, whether someone has taken responsibility for a crime and if there was a guilty plea instead of a trial, called for a term of 12 to 18 months in prison. But that recommendation is also based on the use of a computer during commission of the crime, and Levy said computers are so commonly used for personal communications that this provision has become outdated.
Levy said he wanted to send a message that the crime Brosnan committed was serious and would be taken seriously by the court. But he also said that was mitigated somewhat because he thought that Brosnan had a good chance for rehabilitation and was unlikely to commit the crime again.
Brosnan has been working, but not as a police officer, since August. Cunniff said his client hopes to be able to get his current job back after he serves his sentence.
Brosnan was ordered to report to prison on Feb. 22, and Levy said he would recommend a facility near Maine. He also said prison authorities would be informed that Brosnan is a former police officer so they can take that into account in deciding where he would be sent and what security arrangements would be warranted.
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