A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a 20-year sentence meted out to a Bradford man convicted of using a cell phone and the Internet to persuade a minor to have sex was not sufficiently discussed by the judge.
The decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sets a precedent, comes in the case of Michael Eugene Begin. He was 33 in 2010 when he falsely claimed on social networking sites that he was a 20-year-old Marine sniper and texted sexual photographs to a 14-year-old girl.
After the girl's mother called the FBI, an agent took the place of the girl and agreed to meet Begin at a restaurant. He was arrested after he showed up with a knife, handcuffs and a condom, according to the appeals court decision.
With a prior record of corruption of minors, Begin faced 14 to 17 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors sought a 30-year sentence. U.S. District Judge Maurice B. Cohill set a 20-year sentence.
Begin's attorney argued that such a sentence was too different from other federal sentences for similar crimes, but the judge did not sufficiently consider that possibility, the appeals court found. The case will be remanded back to the local level for resentencing.