Prosecutor: Brentwood pornographer deserves above-minimum sentence
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In an unusually strongly worded sentencing memorandum, a federal prosecutor has argued that Russell Freed, the Brentwood man who pleaded guilty to extorting explicit pictures from teens, should get much more than the minimum 15 year sentence that his attorney asked for last week.
Mr. Freed, 43, pleaded guilty to possession, production and distribution of child pornography, which could get him 15 to 160 years in prison, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Haller noted in his 20-page memorandum filed late Friday. His crime is sometimes referred to as sextortion, as he tricked or threatened young people into sending him sexually revealing photos of themselves and each other.
Mr. Haller's memorandum quoted from texts that suggested Mr. Freed knew at least some of his victims were as young as 14 years old.
Mr. Freed's attorney, Ronald Hayward, wrote in his memorandum last week that the defendant wasn't really so much a child pornographer, but "seemed to prefer the 'cat and mouse' game of deception and intrigue involved in duping people into sending him naked pictures of themselves." So Mr. Freed, a former Turnpike engineer, should get the minimum sentence, Mr. Hayward argued.
The cat-and-mouse argument "is truly an insult to his victims as well as to cats," Mr. Haller countered. "No four-legged animal would have so sadistically and gratuitously tormented prey for the purpose of sexual gratification and enjoyment.
"The sexual exploitation alone demands a long sentence of incapacitation, punishment, and deterrence, but the sexual exploitation was only part of Mr. Freed's crimes," Mr. Haller wrote.
"The manner in which he mercilessly, and, quite frankly, unnecessarily degraded and extorted his victims, and in the process held them hostage and poisoned their lives, makes his crime in some ways as similar to kidnaping and assault as it is to sexual exploitation."
Mr. Haller called Mr. Freed's sentencing argument a "pathetic sham."
While he did not argue for a life sentence, Mr. Haller wrote that a sentence substantially above 15 years would be appropriate.
Mr. Freed is to be sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry.
First Published July 9, 2012 9:48 am