Charlotte federal courthouse. Courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina.

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A North Wilkesboro man faces more than 10 years in federal prison after being sentenced Thursday on child pornography charges at U.S. District Court in Statesville by Judge Kenneth D. Bell.

Law enforcement had become aware that Ronnie Brown, 36, was accessing child pornography and attempted to intercept him at the Charlotte airport as he caught a flight for Las Vegas in October 2018, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina.

Brown refused to cooperate and tried to have his wife, Kelly Brown, “get rid of his laptop” by passing it to another contact, but that person later turned the computer over to law enforcement, according to the statement.

A search warrant executed at Brown’s residence in Wilkes County led to the seizure of computer files, including more than 4,100 images of children, according to court records. The federal statement described these as including “infants and toddlers, engaging in sexually explicit conduct,” some of it “sadistic and masochistic.”

Headed for federal prison

Brown accepted a guilty plea for receipt of child pornography in October 2019 and has remained in federal custody since that time. He is expected to be transferred to the Federal Bureau of Prisons shortly.

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His 121-month federal prison sentence does not include the possibility of parole. Upon completion of his prison time, he will face lifetime supervised release and be ordered to register as a sex offender, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Kelly Brown has not yet been sentenced but has admitted to her role in trying to keep evidence of her husband’s child pornography files away from law enforcement. She has pleaded guilty to federal felony obstruction of justice, according to the federal statement.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alfredo De La Rosa of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.

Special Agent Ronnie Martinez of Homeland Security Investigations and Wilkes County Sheriff Chris Shew worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in apprehending the Browns.

The federal crackdown on this type of child pornography activity is part of Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice program launched in 2006 to combat online sexual exploitation of children. The program combines federal, state and local agency resources.


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