Wednesday, April 25, 2018
News Roundup

Largo puppeteer plans to plead guilty to possessing, receiving child porn

The disturbing case of a professional puppeteer who wrote about his desire to kill, cook and eat a child apparently will end with a guilty plea and prison time.

Ronald William Brown of Largo has signed an agreement to plead guilty in federal court to possessing and receiving child pornography.

Those are serious charges with serious prison time, but not as many years as if Brown had been formally charged with conspiring to kidnap a child.

It's likely federal court guidelines will call for Brown, 57, to serve between about 61/2 and 10 years, said his attorney, Eric Kuske Leanza. But Leanza stressed that many factors go into calculating sentences in the federal system, and the official calculations have not been done.

"He's made a decision that that would be in his best interest," Leanza said, referring to Brown's plans to plead guilty.

Facing the even more serious charge of conspiring to kidnap a child was a real possibility, especially considering Brown's nightmarish online writings to a friend. For example, he wrote about wanting to cook a child's body parts for dinner. He even wrote that he had picked a boy out, a fellow member of Largo's Gulf Coast Church. "I imagine him wiggling and then going still," Brown wrote.

The case drew international publicity based on the disturbing writings.

But a grand jury indicted Brown only for the charges of possessing and receiving child pornography.

Recent court papers say that Brown had numerous pictures of child pornography on his laptop and engaged in plenty of discussions about them.

One person wrote to Brown saying "have pics of nude boys and any babies too" and "some boys are tie-up." Brown responded: "Oh, I would enjoy seeing the boys who are tied up."

There had been no evidence presented that Brown actually did directly harm a child. Besides that, legal experts said, merely writing down extremely distasteful thoughts is not a crime. Acting on those thoughts, or conspiring to do so, is a different story.

Although Brown has signed a plea agreement, it will not be official until he appears before a federal judge, Leanza said.

After that, probation officials will prepare a more precise calculation of what sentence Brown should face under federal guidelines.

Several weeks later, he would appear before a judge to learn his sentence.

Under the plea agreement, Brown also agreed to give up his Dell laptop, a Sony camera, a thumb drive, a cellphone, 63 CDs or DVDs, and 30 books. He also would have to register as a sex offender.

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