WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court has ordered a longer sentence for a convicted pedophile who drove from Virginia to Maryland to have sex with a minor in 2002, while he was on probation from the earlier crime.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a district court judge was wrong to reduce Brett M. Gold’s sentence on the grounds that Gold had been enticed by an FBI agent to cross state lines for the supposed sexual encounter.
The appeals court reversed the lower court and ordered a new sentencing for Gold, who could get 14 to 17.5 years for the second crime, according to an aide to his attorney.
Gold was first convicted in Virginia of having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1998, according to court documents. He served a year in jail and was released on probation.
While on probation, he began having online conversations with someone he thought was another 13-year-old girl, named Emma. But Emma was actually an undercover FBI agent who arranged to meet with Gold in Salisbury.
Heavy traffic prevented Gold from making their first meeting. They planned a second meeting, and Gold was arrested on March 15, 2002, as he drove to that encounter. Court documents said Gold had a backpack with condoms, Vaseline and an envelope with the name Emma on it, among other items, at the time of his arrest.
Gold pleaded guilty to driving across state lines with the intent to have sex with a minor after having been convicted of a sex offense.
At sentencing, he argued that he should get less than the recommended sentence because of the “degree of enticement” by the government.
“He never met anybody,” said David Irwin, Gold’s attorney. “An FBI agent was posing as a minor — they enticed him into traveling.”
The district court sentenced Gold on April 16, 2004, to 12.5 years in prison — less than the 14 to 17.5 years he could have received under sentencing guidelines, according to Irwin’s office.
But the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore appealed the sentence, arguing that Gold’s sentence should not have been reduced because he had not been coerced.
The appeals court agreed in an unpublished opinion Tuesday, saying that although the FBI agent’s actions enticed Gold, they “did not threaten, coerce or blackmail Gold in any way.” Rather, the opinion said, that the government’s action constituted “run-of-the-mill persuasion” and did not, therefore, entitle Gold to a sentence reduction.
The appellate court ordered a new sentence “within the applicable guideline range” for Gold, who is currently being held in a federal prison in Colorado.
Prosecutors could not be reached for comment on the case Wednesday.
-30- CNS 11-17-04