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An Ex-California Cop Blamed His Child Porn Conviction on Post-George Floyd ‘Public Animus’ Toward the Police. A Judge Didn’t Buy It.


The headquarters of the Long Beach Police Department.

A former police officer sentenced to nearly six years in federal prison for distributing child pornography blamed public animus toward law enforcement and post-traumatic stress disorder for pushing him into a “deep depression” that led to his crimes.

Anthony Mark Brown, 57, was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. A 27-year member of the Long Beach Police Department, Brown initially caught a break when a colleague called him in May 2020 and told him an account associated with his phone number had been used to upload child porn to the Internet but that he would not face charges.

“The detective told the defendant that the investigation would be closed, but that if the detective received another complaint related to defendant, both cases would be presented for felony filing consideration,” according to a sentencing memorandum from Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathrynne Seiden of the Central District of California. “Defendant did not question why the detective was calling him and affirmed that he understood.”

The Long Beach Post reported the detective “only learned Brown was an LBPD officer after hanging up and looking him up in a law enforcement database.” A police spokesman declined to explain beyond saying the detective’s directive was “consistent with historical investigative best practices at the time,” according to the Post. Brown didn’t leave the force until after he was arrested in February 2021.

A former resident of Lakewood, California, who moved to Island, Kentucky, Brown was initially charged in state court, but the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the matter there after a federal grand jury indicted Brown in September 2021 on three counts of distribution of child pornography and one count of possession of chid pornography. He pleaded guilty in March to a single count of distribution of child porn and faced a prison sentence between 70 and 87 months under U.S. Sentencing Commission guidelines.

The U.S. Probation Office, which provides independent assessments for federal sentencings, recommended the defendant receive a more lenient sentence of 60 months, the mandatory minimum sentence for chid porn distribution under federal law, citing his work history and the “limited number of images and videos of child pornography found in comparison to a typical child pornography case.”

But Seiden asked for 70 months, saying Brown “evinced a desire to groom unwilling minors to participate in group sex acts, thus further expanding and encouraging the market” for the illegal images he distributed.

“He did those things while entrusted to protect the public,” Seiden wrote. “In other words, defendant’s sentence should account for the serious nature of his crime.”

Brown distributed some images while he was on duty, according to the memo, which said he “repeatedly spent the hours he was being paid to protect his community to instead victimize children by trading child pornography online.”

Seiden also said the small number of images and videos “would carry significantly more weight had the government been able to accurately assess the number of images and videos in defendant’s possession.” Instead, Brown reset his phone after the detective contacted him, so federal agents were not “able to assess what and how many images and videos defendant had in his possession — only those he uploaded to his MeWe library.”

Still, prosecutors declined to seek a longer sentence for obstruction of justice because they said they “cannot say for certain that the materials defendant deleted contained additional evidence of defendant’s crime.” But at the same time, Seiden wrote, U.S. Probation’s 60-month recommendation assumes Brown had no additional images, which isn’t fair, either.

Seiden also took issue with probation’s assessment that Brown “was never psychologically suited to become a police officer due to his particularly sensitive an[d] empathetic nature.”

“To the contrary, law enforcement officers should be empathetic to the plights of crime victims,” Seiden wrote, “and defendant’s crime demonstrates a jarring insensitivity and distinct lack of empathy for society’s most vulnerable victims: children who are sexually abused by the adults they trust, and who must then repeatedly relive that trauma for the sexual gratification of strangers like defendant.”

Brown’s lawyers repeated probation’s 60-month recommendation, claiming he was prosecuted federally only because he was a police officer and likely would have received probation had the case stayed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. They cited a psychological evaluation that said Brown repeated becoming “increasingly disenchanted with work, especially since George Floyd,” referring to the Black man who was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, leading to national protests. He said he became a police officer “way too young, and I saw a lot of stuff, dead bodies.”

U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips went with prosecutors’ recommended 70-month sentence. She also fined him $15,000 and ordered him to be on probation for the rest of his life after he’s released from prison.

[Image via the express written permission of the Long Beach Post.]

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A graduate of the University of Oregon, Meghann worked at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, and the Idaho Statesman in Boise, Idaho, before moving to California in 2013 to work at the Orange County Register. She spent four years as a litigation reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and one year as a California-based editor and reporter for and associated publications such as The National Law Journal and New York Law Journal before joining Law & Crime News. Meghann has written for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Bloomberg Law, ABA Journal, The Forward, Los Angeles Business Journal and the Laguna Beach Independent. Her Twitter coverage of federal court hearings in a lawsuit over homelessness in Los Angeles placed 1st in the Los Angeles Press Club's Southern California Journalism Awards for Best Use of Social Media by an Independent Journalist in 2021. An article she freelanced for Los Angeles Times Community News about a debate among federal judges regarding the safety of jury trials during COVID also placed 1st in the Orange County Press Club Awards for Best Pandemic News Story in 2021.