TAMPA, Fla. – A Polk County, Fla. man was sentenced to 90 years in federal prison for producing child pornography. This sentence is the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Wesley William Brandt, 46, of Davenport, Fla. was sentenced to 90 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich.
In June 2011, Brandt pleaded guilty to three counts of child pornography production. According to court documents and proceedings, in February 2008, Brandt, posing as a 17-year-old boy, began communicating online with a 13-year-old girl from Colorado. During these communications and through the use of other online personas, Brandt threatened and coerced the Colorado victim to produce sexually explicit photographs of herself and her 6-year-old sister. Specifically, Brandt threatened to create a public website and post sexually explicit images of the victim if she did not send him additional sexually explicit images of herself. Brandt was also introduced to the 13-year-old female cousin of the Colorado victim and similarly threatened and coerced her to produce sexually explicit photographs of herself. A subsequent search of Brandt's home, conducted by HSI special agents, yielded computers and computer storage devices containing multiple images of child pornography.
"This case warrants the attention of law enforcement and parents everywhere," said United States Attorney Robert O'Neill. "The protection of our children from sexual exploitation by such individuals remains a priority of the Department of Justice and we intend on enforcing these crimes at the highest level possible."
"The court's sentence clearly reflects the seriousness of this awful crime," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Tampa. "We can't erase the pain and suffering of the victims, but our aggressive pursuit of these cases with our law enforcement partners sends a powerful warning about the significant consequences involved for those who commit these crimes."
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
This case was also brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie B. Harris of the Middle District of Florida and Trial Attorney Andrew M. McCormack of the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.