A former Wisconsin children’s court judge was sentenced to spend nine years in prison and an additional 20 years on supervised release for distributing child pornography, Acting U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea of the Western District of Wisconsin and state attorney general Josh Kaul announced in a joint statement Wednesday.
Brett Blomme, 39, of Cottage Grove pleaded guilty on Sept. 28. He was serving on the bench in Milwaukee County when agents arrested him in March, Law&Crime previously reported. In return for the guilty plea, the state agreed to dismiss a litany of charges Blomme faced in connection with the same exact conduct at the state court level.
The ultimate sentence still fell below what federal prosecutors sought. According to court documents, the U.S. DOJ asked for a prison term of between 151 and 188 months — or between 12.5 and 15.6 years. Federal prosecutors noted the defendant’s legal sophistication while asking for a substantial sentence:
The government acknowledges that the defendant has no criminal history. However, this changed when he sent child pornography to other people on the Internet. The defendant unquestionably knew his actions were illegal. He is highly educated, passed the bar exam, and is licensed to practice law in two states. He also worked as an attorney for the City of Madison and the Wisconsin Public Defender’s Office before being elected as a judge in Milwaukee County. Despite his extensive education and in-depth knowledge of the law, the threat of incarceration did not stop the defendant from committing his crimes. Therefore, a significant term of imprisonment is now needed to deter the defendant from committing any future crimes.
Blomme’s defense attorney pointed the judge toward the minimum sentence — five years — while extolling reasons to go light on the defendant:
Brett Blomme submits this memorandum in support of sentencing. Blomme, at 39, admits both his guilt and his underlying struggles with an addiction to illegal child pornography. He surrendered himself into custody in May without a fight, though there was one to wage. And, despite certain political voices raised herein prematurely (and in willful disregard for Brett’s then-still-extant presumption of innocence), Brett fully accepts responsibility for his crimes. He has begun the process of surrendering his law license based on his convictions. He wants the serious help he needs, for his porn addiction (with its underlying root causes) and for his alcohol abuse. Brett has made forward-looking, constructive plans for life after prison. And yet, throughout his time in custody, he has remained a constant in the lives of his children, spending time daily in video chats with them. Further underscoring Brett’s full if flawed character (we all have flaws), he has also organized healthy activities for the Sauk County jail inmates who are his current “roommates.”
The defense continued by saying Blomme’s fall from grace was its own form of punishment:
These political battles have left Blomme publicly scourged, scrutinized and scalded in ways that are unlike what happens to most who are similarly accused. Those facts mitigate any need for extreme punishment.
[ . . . ]
What has he lost, collaterally? A lot. He had worked hard to get through law school and make his way into a higher professional echelon. That is gone, obviously; and it may be for the better for Blomme in the long run, but it is still a significant loss.
“At this point, any time beyond the political minimum seems to serve little purpose, given the good Brett can still do going forward,” the defense said in conclusion. “We ask you to show him every mercy.”
Blomme said while campaigning for the judgeship that he was a “progressive alternative” to an incumbent judge appointed by Gov. Scott Walker, a staunch Republican and conservative.
Blomme’s judge, in selecting a nine-year term of incarceration, applied federal sentencing guidelines in a fashion that landed nearly in the middle of the recommendations of the state and the defense.
According to court records, Blomme’s former court clerk, his sister, his brother-in-law, his brother’s girlfriend, his sister-in-law, his mother, his father, his husband, and his pastor at Coventry Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wis., wrote letters in his support.
Federal prosecutors said the case unfolded in late January when the Wisconsin Department of Justice received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that someone with the Kik Messenger username “dommasterbb” had distributed “27 files of child pornography.”
“The images and videos showed prepubescent children posing in lewd and lascivious positions, underage children performing sexual acts on adults, and adults sexually abusing minors,” prosecutors continued.
A search warrant resulted in the uncovering of dommasterbb’s personal email address. The email provider linked the address to Blomme. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, log files from Kik revealed that Blomme “distributed child pornography from his house in Cottage Grove, a residence in the Milwaukee area, and the Milwaukee County Children’s Court Center where he worked.”
Search warrants executed on Blomme’s home led agents to “electronic devices that contained numerous text messages between Blomme and other individuals that centered on Blomme’s sexual interest in children,” prosecutors said in a press release.
U.S. District Court Judge James D. Peterson called Blomme the “worst of the worst,” federal prosecutors recalled. That Blomme disseminated pornography “while sitting as a judge was an aggravating factor that supported a significant term of imprisonment,” prosecutors noted.
“Today’s sentence sends an unambiguous message that we will track down and hold accountable those who distribute child sexual abuse material,” said Acting U.S. Attorney O’Shea said in a statement. “Every time an image of child sexual abuse is shared, it re-victimizes that child. No one is above the law and I am grateful to our law enforcement partners who helped ensure that the defendant would be held accountable for his crimes.”
“The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation does important work to protect children’s safety, including investigating internet crimes against children,” said Attorney General Kaul. “Thank you to the investigators and prosecutors who have ensured that these heinous and deeply disturbing crimes have resulted in serious consequences.”
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