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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
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Milwaukee judge sentenced to 9 years in prison on child pornography charges

The disturbing nature of the child pornography possessed and distributed and the defendant’s status as a sitting judge while he committed his crimes are factors that weighed in favor of a longer sentence.

MADISON, Wis. (CN) — A former Milwaukee County Children’s Court judge on Wednesday was sentenced to nine years in prison for distributing child pornography, a punishment falling in between recommendations from federal prosecutors and the judge’s defense attorney.

The sentence for Brett Blomme, 39, handed down by U.S. District Judge James Peterson in Madison includes concurrent nine-year prison terms for two child pornography counts, 20 years of supervised release and a $5,000 special assessment under the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, according to the minutes of Blomme’s sentencing hearing.

Peterson, a Barack Obama appointee, highlighted the egregious nature of the material Blomme distributed, describing it as the “worst of the worst," and considered Blomme’s illegal conduct while sitting as a judge as an aggravating factor in support of a nine-year prison sentence, according to a press release from the office of acting U.S. Attorney Timothy O’Shea.

Blomme was first charged in Dane County Circuit Court with seven felony counts of possession of child pornography in March after a two-month investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, followed up by a federal grand jury indictment in May.

Prosecutors said in the state court complaint that Blomme used the messaging app Kik to upload pictures and videos of child pornography on 27 separate occasions in October and November 2020 under the username “dommasterbb,” registered using his personal Gmail address.

Kik and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tipped off Wisconsin DOJ agents in late January, spurring the investigation led by the DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation. The investigation connected transactions of child pornography to multiple other email addresses, phone numbers and IP addresses, including those at Blomme and his husband’s home in the Madison suburb of Cottage Grove, the Milwaukee home of Blomme’s friend and a Milwaukee County government building.

In his federal case, Blomme agreed to plead guilty to two felony child pornography possession counts in August, admitting he used his iPhone to distribute sexually explicit images of children on the Kik app as described in the indictment and forgoing his right to a jury trial. Approved by prosecutors, the plea agreement resolved all federal and state charges.

In the government’s sentencing recommendation memo filed with the federal court on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chadwick Elgersma called for a sentence of between 151 to 188 months, or roughly 12 to 15 years, followed by 20 years of supervised release. The recommendation was based, in part, on the fact that Blomme “brazenly distributed” child pornography from not only his home but the Milwaukee County Children’s Court Center, “undoubtedly from the sanctity of his chambers,” the document said.

Elgersma said he also took into account the graphic nature of the pornographic pictures and videos Blomme distributed, which included prepubescent children in lewd and lascivious poses, adults committing sex acts on minors and, most disturbingly, one video involving the forceable rape of a toddler.

Blomme’s Madison-based lawyer Christopher Van Wagner’s own sentencing memo recommended the mandatory minimum five years’ imprisonment, pointing to Blomme’s efforts to get treatment for his child pornography addiction and severe alcohol abuse, the voluntary surrender of his Wisconsin law license, letters filed with the court in his support, his role in the lives of his young children, and his sincere remorse and acceptance of full responsibility for his crimes.

Van Wagner additionally described how, upon his arrest, Blomme turned into “the subject of a game of political football” as he was blisteringly shamed in the court of public opinion and became “a frequent social media poster child for vicious right-wing attacks on progressive politicians, including the sitting governor of Wisconsin.”

The defense attorney also took to task Wisconsin State Courts Director Randy Koschnick for allegedly interfering in the case and immediately blocking Blomme’s pay and benefits once he was charged with a crime, which Van Wagner said “continues to look like a public relations ploy” by Koschnick and the Wisconsin Supreme Court since, according to his research, no other elected state judge has had their office pay unilaterally blocked upon the filing of a criminal charge.

Blomme was elected to the bench in 2020 after defeating incumbent Judge Paul Dedinsky, an appointee of former Republican Governor Scott Walker. After taking office in August 2020, Blomme worked in children’s court at the Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa.

He previously served on Milwaukee’s board of zoning appeals upon appointment by outgoing Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who also backed Blomme in his judicial election. Blomme was formerly the president and CEO of the Cream City Foundation, a local organization that mobilizes philanthropy to provide scholarships and other resources for the LGBTQ+ community.

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Categories / Courts, Criminal, Regional

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