Attorney Gerson has sentence reduced for child pornography offender
My client, a young professional from Cambria County, was engaged in internet peer-to-peer file-sharing on a social media network and was the subject of online monitoring by a task force comprised of local, state, and federal agents. Based on the task force investigation, a search warrant was applied for and executed at my client’s residence, resulting in the seizure of computers, hard-drives, and other electronic devices. Shortly thereafter, I was retained by my client’s family, and explained to them that file sharing, even when unintentional, falls within the definition of “distribution,” and carries an applicable 5-year mandatory minimum sentence in federal court. The client and family identified his primary goal as avoiding a lengthy term of imprisonment. To that end, I suggested that the client immediately enter a structured sexual offender treatment program, and recommended that several psychologists be interviewed in that regard. I explained that voluntarily entering into and completing such a program would be considered a substantial mitigating factor for sentencing purposes. Ultimately, the forensic examination revealed over 6000 images of child pornography and multiple written communications between my client and other like-minded individuals regarding the sharing of files. Consequently, my client was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of Distribution/Receipt of Images of Child Pornography and one count of Possession of Images of Child Pornography. Because I coordinated with the federal marshals and U.S. Attorney in the surrender of my client for his initial appearance in Federal Court, he was released on a non-monetary bond. Since my client was the owner of the internet provider account and the only individual with access to the computers, hard-drives, etc., there was no viable defense. Significantly, however, I was successful in negotiating a plea agreement whereby the U.S. Attorney agreed to withdraw the one count of Distribution/Receipt of Images of Child Pornography (and its applicable 5-year mandatory minimum sentence) for and in consideration of my client agreeing to enter a plea to one count of Possession of Images of Child Pornography. Prior to sentencing, I drafted a 26-page Sentencing Memorandum seeking a substantial downward variance from the sentence guidelines recommendation of 78-97 months. In the memorandum, I argued the guidelines were merely advisory, and not based on consideration of empirical data by the U.S. Sentencing Commission and, furthermore, that the guidelines did not take into account the 3553(a) factors such as my client’s specific personal characteristics and history. I also noted the sentencing discrepancies throughout the various national jurisdictions. At sentencing, I offered the expert testimony of Dr. Alan Pass, who explained in detail what his structured sex offender treatment program was comprised of, empirical data from various studies, the degree of my client’s participation in the program, and what factors he considered in concluding that my client’s risk of re-offending behavior was minimal. Dr. Pass further opined that continuing with a “maintenance phase” in a structured sex offender treatment program provided that best possible safeguard against re-offending behavior. Ultimately, my client was sentenced to 8 months of confinement in the Cambria County Prison and 15 years of supervised release, thereby achieving his original goal of avoiding a lengthy term of imprisonment.