JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi man fighting a 60-year sentence for producing and distributing pornography featuring a 5-year-old boy argues that the prison term is unfair because his cooperation with authorities allowed the breakup of child porn rings in Wisconsin and the Netherlands.
Brian Robinson, now 32, of Potts Camp in north Mississippi pleaded guilty in January 2012 to creating various forms of child pornography and distributing on the Internet inside and outside the United States. Robinson admitted that the sexually explicit photos of him with the boy were among the material distributed.
The Department of Justice said Robinson was arrested as part of an international child pornography investigation that has resulted in the arrests of 27 people and the identification of 138 child victims.
Robinson argues in briefs filed with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that at his sentencing, a federal judge in Mississippi failed to consider his cooperation with authorities in the U.S. and the Netherlands.
The sentencing issue is among several -- including the legality of the search of Robinson's home and workplace -- that are scheduled to be argued Monday before a three-judge 5th Circuit panel in New Orleans.
In his appeal, Robinson does not attack the facts of the case.
Prosecutors said in court documents that an investigation launched in Massachusetts ultimately led the FBI to trace the Internet Protocol address to Accurate Roofing Company Inc. in Potts Camp, where Robinson was employed.
The FBI obtained search warrants for the business and Robinson's home in Marshall County, Miss. The government said agents found 260 images of child pornography and 19 movies containing child pornography at Robinson's workplace. They also found evidence that linked Robinson to an instant messaging program on an online forum for individuals interested in young boys and young girls.
The FBI said it identified clothing at Robinson's home along with a bed, windows and other items that had shown up in the sexually explicit Internet images of Robinson and the boy.
The government said Robinson made a statement to the FBI that he sent images of the boy to people over the Internet, including one person in the Netherlands. He also said he and two other individuals known to him as "Happy" and "Daycare" shared and exchanged child pornography images over the Internet.
Robinson said in his arguments that the government used that information to arrest Eric Schuster, of Ellsworth, Wis., who ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography.
Robinson said the information he gave to Dutch officials resulted in the arrest of Robert Mikelsons, a 27-year-old daycare worker, in Amsterdam. Mickelsons ultimately was convicted of abusing 67 children and was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment, plus indefinite psychiatric confinement.
Court records show that federal prosecutors didn't recommend a downward departure from sentencing guidelines. U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock in Aberdeen, Miss., ruled that she could not consider a lesser sentence without a recommendation from the U.S. attorney's office.
Robinson said Aycock's decision was a procedural error.
"The district court had before it abundant information regarding Mr. Robinson's extensive cooperation, both in the federal investigation and prosecution of Eric Schuster ... and in the Dutch investigation of an international child pornography network and the prosecution of one of its most prolific offenders, Roberts Mickelsons," wrote Robinson's attorney Leroy D. Percy.
"In light of the nature and extent of Mr. Robinson's cooperation, it is a sentencing factor that should receive significant weight and the district court's failure to account for it renders the 720-month sentence substantively unreasonable," Perry wrote.
The government acknowledged that it made no sentencing recommendation. Court records do not include a reason.
"There is nothing in the record that indicates that the District Court did not make a reasonable decision in reaching its choice to reject Robinson's arguments and impose the sentence called for by the statutory minimums and maximums of the charges to which Robinson pleaded guilty," the government said.
The government said Aycock considered all Robinson's arguments, federal sentencing guidelines and abuse to the boy to impose a reasonable sentence.