TAMPA, Fla. – Wesley William Brandt, 46, of Davenport, Fla., pleaded guilty today in federal court to three counts of production of child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents in Tampa.
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 yielded computers and computer storage devices containing multiple images of child pornography.
For each count, Brandt faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, as well as the possibility of lifetime supervised release. Brandt also faces a fine of $250,000.
This investigation was conducted as part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate, and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable. ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is 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 prosecuted by Trial Attorney Andrew M. McCormack of the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie B. Harris of the Middle District of Florida.