United States District Court, D. Minnesota
W. PRATT, JUDGE
August 13, 2019, this Court sentenced Defendant Dennis Edward
Bresnahan to a term of incarceration of thirty months on
Counts One and Two of the Indictment, to be served
concurrently, followed by two years of supervised release.
ECF No. 90. This memorandum explicates the Court's
analysis and reasoning for this sentence.
March 1, 2019, Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of
making false statements or representations to an agency of
the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.
See 18 U.S.C. § 3559; ECF Nos. 54, 56. This
Court is now tasked with crafting a sentence that is
“sufficient, but not greater than necessary, . . . (A)
to reflect the seriousness of the offense[s], to promote
respect for the law, . . . to provide just punishment for the
offense[s]; [and] (B) to afford adequate deterrence to
criminal conduct.” 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2).
Defendant is a former U.S. Probation Officer who served the
District of Minnesota for over twenty-five years. PSR ¶
7. In that position, Defendant was responsible for
supervising probationers on federal pretrial and supervised
release. Id. During his employment as a federal
probation officer, Defendant had extensive access to the
records of the probationers under his supervision, including
their physical and mental health records, substance abuse
histories, employment and financial records, as well as other
personal information. Id. ¶ 8. Probationers
were required to check in with Defendant via phone, e-mail,
and in person, and Defendant was authorized to visit them at
their workplaces and homes as part of his supervision duties.
August 2016, the Government received sexually explicit
recorded phone calls between Defendant and one of his female
probationers. See Id. ¶ 17. The probationer had
made the recordings in early April 2016 to prove to her
disbelieving defense attorney that Defendant had had sexual
phone conversations with her and that he had also requested
she send Defendant nude photographs of herself. Id.
¶¶ 11, 13-15. Two FBI special agents interviewed
Defendant about the phone calls on August 22, 2016.
Id. ¶ 18. The agents asked Defendant about the
probationer, and Defendant admitted he had had
“boundary issues and inappropriate conversations”
with her. Id. He further admitted he had had
sexually explicit conversations with her and that he had
received a nude photograph of her on his work e-mail.
Id. Defendant also admitted he had deleted the
photograph and failed to report his misconduct or the
photograph to his supervisors. Id. ¶ 19.
However, he refused to admit that he had requested the
photograph. Id. ¶ 18. And when asked whether he
had requested any additional sexual photographs from that
probationer or any others, Defendant lied and said he had
not. Id. ¶ 20.
agents thereafter conducted an investigation into whether
Defendant had engaged in sexual misconduct with any other
probationers and discovered he had. The agents learned
Defendant had supervised another female probationer from July
2013 until February 2014, during which time Defendant
initiated sexually explicit phone conversations with the
probationer. Id. ¶ 23-24. In exchange for
Defendant's permission to travel out of state, the
probationer sent Defendant nude photographs of herself and a
sexually explicit video. Id. ¶ 24. The
probationer was able to provide the FBI agents with e-mails
between herself and Defendant that she had saved and hoped to
eventually use to report him. Id. ¶ 25. The
e-mails intermixed legitimate supervision topics and
requirements with sexually explicit topics and photographs.
Id. ¶¶ 26-36. At some point, Defendant
began having phone sex with the probationer. Id.
¶ 37. The probationer told the FBI agents she
participated in the sexual e-mails and phone conversations
and sent Defendant sexually explicit photographs because she
feared what he would do to her if she did not comply.
Id. At the sentencing evidentiary hearing, the
probationer testified she initially sent Defendant a random
naked photograph she had found online, but because Defendant
had access to her personal file, he determined that she was
not the subject of the photograph because her tattoos were
not pictured; Defendant then asked her to send him new
photographs of herself naked. The probationer testified she
felt like she had to play along with Defendant's advances
because she did not think anyone would believe her and she
was worried Defendant could have her sent back to prison. She
further testified that, whenever Defendant started sexual
conversations via phone, she tried to redirect the
conversations into e-mail for written proof of his
agents' investigation also revealed Defendant had not
just had sexual conversations with some of his former
probationers but also sexual contact. Id. ¶ 61.
One former probationer who was under Defendant's
supervision from 2010 until 2012, informed the agents that on
one occasion, Defendant had called her on his way to her home
and told her he wanted her to be naked when he arrived; she
did not comply. Id. ¶¶ 62, 63, 65. After
Defendant arrived at her home, he had the probationer sit on
his lap while she was on the phone with her sister and later
had her perform oral sex on him. Id. ¶ 63. The
probationer stated she did as Defendant asked because she did
not want to go back to prison. Id. After the
incident, the probationer told her sister what had happened;
both women decided not to report Defendant because they
assumed no one would believe them. Id. ¶ 64.
Four years after the probationer was released from
supervision, Defendant utilized the Probation Office's
records system to find contact information for her and call
her. Id. ¶ 66. Upset by his renewed advances,
the probationer contacted the Probation Office to file a
complaint about Defendant. Id. When asked about her
complaint, Defendant denied any sexual misconduct.
also had sexual contact with another former probationer whom
he had supervised from 1994 until 1997. Id. ¶
68. The probationer told the FBI agents that on at least
three occasions, Defendant had come to her place of work and
demanded that she perform oral sex on him. Id. On
another occasion, Defendant went to the probationer's
workplace and kissed her and told her to “feel him,
” meaning his penis. Id. Each time after the
probationer complied, Defendant threatened her and told her
not to tell anyone. Id. Defendant also tried to have
sexually explicit phone calls with her, telling her he
enjoyed the oral sex and wanted more. Id. Defendant
knew from her file that the probationer had been sexually
abused as a child and was raped while serving in the U.S. Air
of their investigation, the FBI agents found undeleted
e-mails of a sexual nature in Defendant's work e-mail
account between Defendant and two of his former probationers
who had been under his supervision from 2001 until 2003 and
2008 until 2010. Id. ¶ 58. One of the e-mails
Defendant had sent attached a photograph of an erect penis in
open pants and another attached a video of him masturbating
at his desk. Id. ¶ 60. The FBI agents'
investigation also revealed that Defendant had coerced more
former probationers into having sexual conversations with
him, and that he had sent another photograph of his penis to
a female probationer who was not under his supervision, which
Defendant had claimed was accidental. Id.
August 15, 2018, the Government filed the four-count
Indictment in this case. ECF No. 1. Counts One and Two
concerned Defendant's false statements to the FBI agents
that he had not requested more than one nude photograph from
the probationer who initially reported his abuse and that he
had not received photographs of a sexual nature from any
other former or current probationers. Id. at 1-2.
Counts Three and Four concerned Defendant's destruction
of records by deleting the sexual photographs he had
requested and received from current and former probationers.
Id. at 2-3. Defendant pleaded guilty to Counts One
and Two pursuant to a plea agreement. ECF Nos. 54, 56. Counts
Three and Four were dismissed at sentencing upon the
Government's motion. ECF No. 90.
falls to this Court to fashion a sentence for Defendant that
is “sufficient, but not greater than necessary.”
18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). As the Chief Justice of the United
States has acknowledged, “[m]ost district judges agree
that sentencing is their most difficult duty.” Chief
Justice John Roberts, 2016 Year-End Report on the Federal
Judiciary 5 (Dec. 31, 2016),
“The judge must confront the offender, face-to-face,
and take just account of human failing. . . . In delivering
the sentence, the judge speaks as the voice of the
community.” Id. The important societal
function sentencing courts perform is reflected by our laws;
Congress has tasked sentencing courts with accomplishing the
policy goals articulated in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2).
3553(a) delineates a number of factors that courts must
consider when determining an appropriate sentence.
Id. Those factors include a number of pragmatic
concerns: “the nature and circumstances of the
offense”; “the history and characteristics of the
defendant”; “the kinds of sentences
available”; the U.S. Sentencing Commission's
recommended sentence, expressed through its Sentencing
Guidelines, and relevant policy statements; “the need
to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants
with similar records who have been found guilty of similar
conduct;” and “the need to provide restitution to
any victims of the offense.” § 3553(a)(1),
(3)-(7). The factors also include the aforementioned policy
goals: “reflect[ing] the seriousness of the offense, .
. . promot[ing] respect for the law, . . . provid[ing] just
punishment for the offense; . . . afford[ing] adequate
deterrence to criminal conduct; . . . protect[ing] the public
from further crimes of the defendant; and . . . provid[ing]
the defendant with needed” care, training, or
treatment. See § 3553(a)(2).
Court begins by first determining the applicable advisory
Guidelines range before proceeding to the Government's
motion for an upward departure or variance and analyzing the
§ 3553(a) factors. See Gall v. United States,
552 U.S. 38, 49-50 (2007); see also United States v.
Coyle, 506 F.3d 680 (8th Cir. 2007).
Advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Range
parties agree Defendant's base offense level is six, as
calculated in the Presentence Investigation Report
(PSR). U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual §
2B1.1 (U.S. Sentencing Comm'n 2018) [hereinafter
U.S.S.G.]. The Court applies a two-level enhancement for
Defendant's Role in the Offense pursuant to U.S.S.G.
§ 3B1.3 because Defendant abused a position of trust or
used a special skill in a manner that significantly
facilitated the commission or concealment of the offense. The
Court also applies a two-level reduction for Defendant's
Acceptance of Responsibility, resulting in a total offense
level of six. See U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(a). The
parties agree Defendant has a criminal history score of zero,
establishing a criminal history category of I. See
U.S.S.G. §§ 4A1.1, .2(e). Therefore, the applicable
advisory Guidelines range is zero to six ...