A puppeteer who worked with children in Pinellas County was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in a child pornography case that brought to light online chats about killing and eating children.
Ronald Brown, 57, pleaded guilty to receiving and possessing child pornography.
Federal guidelines called for a sentence of six and a half years to a little more than eight years, but the government asked Judge James Whittemore for a "variance" that would give Brown a higher sentence.
Whittemore granted the motion and issued the 20-year sentence, in addition to a lifetime of supervised release, limited computer use, an order not to have contact with children and a requirement that Brown register as a sex offender.
Part of the sentencing hearing Monday focused on the issue of not just punishing Brown, but also protecting the public.
Brown's defense attorney argued that his client lived in a fantasy world, but the assistant U.S. attorney on the case argued the online chats showed "a depraved and dangerous person."
Also in court, the government revealed more about what was found during searches of Brown's home. In addition to 200 images of child pornography, assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Kaiser said investigators found bags of boys underwear and a blow-up doll wearing children's clothing.
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