Crime

Hialeah ‘sextortionist’ sentenced to 139 years in prison

Patrick Killen, a convicted Internet “sextortionist,” defiantly declared in Miami federal court that he got no gratification from sexually explicit pictures of boys that he collected from them on his computer — that the justice system has “it all wrong.”

“I am not what you people think I am,” the 22-year-old Hialeah man said on Thursday, denying that he is a pedophile, as authorities portrayed him. He said his misconduct was “immature” and “stupid,” before swearing at a prosecutor and calling him an “idiot.”

U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore slammed Killen with a 139-year prison sentence, saying he showed no remorse for the hundreds of underage male victims that he duped into giving him naked pictures of themselves over the Internet. “He is simply incapable of conforming his behavior to the law when it comes to child pornography,” Moore said, calling Killen a “serial abuser of multiple victims.”

Moore considered giving Killen 274 years in prison, as recommended by prosecutors under federal sentencing guidelines for his series of child-porn offenses, but opted to cut that number in half.

It mattered little to Killen’s parents, who begged Moore for mercy. They hugged each other and wept before waving good-bye to their son as he was escorted by U.S. marshals out of the courtroom.

In July, Killen was convicted of posing as a teenage female cheerleader to induce about 300 boys to send him sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves that he viewed, packaged and distributed to others. When the minor male targets refused to send him pictures of their genitalia and other private parts, Killen threatened to post the ones he already had in his possession on Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites, Miami federal jurors concluded before finding him guilty.

"Sextortion," according to authorities, has become a growing Internet crime in which online predators like Killen blackmail children through terror and manipulation.

“The lengthy sentence handed down [Thursday] sends a message to those who use the Internet to target and extort children through sexual exploitation and pornographic offenses,” U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said.

Killen, who has been in custody since his arrest in March, was hoping for a 15-year mandatory-minimum sentence. But prosecutors pushed for consecutive sentences for his 15 convictions on child-porn and threat charges that effectively added up to a life sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Emery said Killen could have stopped his predatory behavior on the Internet after FBI agents questioned him in early 2014 but instead his misconduct escalated until his arrest. “He tricked boys into sending him images and videos of them masturbating,” Emery said, accusing Killen of producing and sharing them with other pedophiles.

Killen then shouted: “You’re f***ing lying.”

“He has shown no remorse,” Emery countered.

“How can you say that?” Killen responded. “The guy’s an idiot.”

Killen's defense attorney, Fred Schwartz, argued that Killen may be a young adult but he has the maturity level of a 15-year-old. He criticized the federal sentencing guidelines for child-porn offenses, saying crimes such as second-degree murder, rape and drug trafficking don't carry such severe punishment.

In a letter to the judge, Killen's mother, Karen, said her son, adopted from Romania, is a "special needs boy" with a "below average" IQ who is "extremely immature."

Killen also noted her son suffers from a kidney problem and must see a specialist every three months to monitor it.

In court, the mother cried as she told the judge: “I am begging you to let my son come home. He is not a pedophile. ... He is truly special needs. He doesn’t deserve this.”

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