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Prosecutors respond to rejected plea deal with new charges

Back on Oct. 11, we discussed the child pornography charges filed against a Tampa-area man over content allegedly found on his computer. The man was charged in July with possession of child pornography, though the grand jury decided not to charge him with conspiracy to kidnap based on an instant message conversation found on the computer.

In an update to this criminal case, the U.S. Attorney's Office presented the defendant with a plea bargain offer in November which would have involved a six-year prison sentence. The defendant declined the offer. In response, the federal prosecutors levied a new indictment on Dec. 27 that adds eight new charges of child pornography. If convicted of these new charges, the defendant, 57, could spend the rest of his life in prison.

It is not clear if prosecutors have gathered any new evidence to justify the additional charges. Back in October, the grand jury examined records of an instant message conversation, allegedly between the defendant and another man, about a fantasy he had about kidnapping and eating a child at his church. The grand jury decided that the conversation, while disturbing, did not amount to an actual plan.

The new charges do not include any conspiracy or kidnapping charges related to the transcript. They do include eight charges of receiving and possessing child pornography. Trial is currently scheduled for January, but the defendant's attorney has filed a motion to postpone the start date. It will be interesting to see if the rejection of the plea deal and subsequent sharp increase in the charges will be a factor at trial.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Harsher child porn charges levied against puppeteer Ronald William Brown," Peter Jamison, Dec. 28, 2012

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