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United States v. Piggott

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

April 27, 2015



MYRON H. THOMPSON, District Judge.

Defendant Richard Piggott pled guilty to possession of child pornography. 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5). At his sentencing, the court accepted the parties' plea agreement, granted Piggott's motion for a downward variance, and imposed a sentence of 12-months and one-day imprisonment, with 12 additional months of inpatient treatment, followed by a lifetime term of supervised release. The court granted the variance on two bases. It recalculated the sentencing range for the heartland case by applying the sentencing framework laid out in United States v. Klear , 3 F.Supp. 3d 1298 (M.D. Ala. 2014) (Thompson, J.), and then considered factors that put this case outside the heartland. This opinion explains why the court granted this variance.


Piggott is a 34 year-old man who has always lived with his parents in central Alabama. Since a young age, he has had problems with his academic and social development.

Piggott has borderline intellectual functioning that can be traced, in part, to being born with an absence of oxygen supply to certain organs at birth (anoxia). He spent his childhood in special-education classes. His IQ remains in the mid-70s, and he currently spells, reads, and does math at a second- to fourth-grade level.

This borderline intellectual functioning led to severe issues for Piggott's emotional development. He has no friends and has never had a serious romantic relationship. He lives at home and is completely dependent on his parents for daily living. He is a recluse, spending an average day sitting on the couch, smoking cigarettes, and watching television. He also has no job.

In the summer and early fall of 2009, an officer from the Alabama Department of Public Safety conducting a routine undercover internet investigation discovered child pornography on a Limewire account associated with Piggott. Based on this information, officers received a search warrant for Piggott's house.

At Piggott's house, the officers retrieved two computers (each with hard drives containing child pornography) as well as numerous CDs, DVDs, and floppy disks. Combined, these items had at least 292 images and 11 videos. Of these images and videos, a large number were pornographic images of young children. A small number of the images were sadistic or masochistic.

Piggott was charged in a one-count indictment with possession of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5), to which Piggott pled guilty.


A. Sentencing Guidelines Calculation

The United States Probation Office, applying the 2014 version of the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines Manual, determined that Piggott's sentencing range under the Guidelines and applicable statutes is 97-to-120 months. According to the Guidelines, his Base Offense Level is 18. U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(a). Piggott also qualifies for five Special Offense Characteristics, leading to a total 15-level increase as follows:

• Because some of the files on his computer portrayed pre-pubescent minors, he receives a two-level increase. U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(b)(2).
• Because he distributed the files, albeit without monetary gain or distribution to a minor, he receives a two-level increase. U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(b)(3)(F).
• Because some of the files on his computer contained sadistic, masochistic, or violent images, he receives a four-level increase. U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(b)(4).
• Because he used a computer to possess and distribute the pornography, he receives a two-level increase. U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(b)(6).
• Because he is deemed to have possessed more than 600 images, he receives a five-level increase. U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(b)(7)(D).[1]

After a three-level adjustment downward for acceptance of responsibility, U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(a) & (b), these enhancements resulted in a final offense level of 30. Because Piggott has only one criminal-history point, his Criminal History Category is I. A Criminal History Category of I and an offense level of 30 yields a sentence range of 97-to-121 months. Because the maximum term of imprisonment under the statute is 120 months, the applicable Guidelines range is 97-to-120 months. 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5) & (b)(2).

Neither party objected to this calculation, although, as noted above, Piggott moved for a variance under the Klear framework, and the government agreed to its application. The ...

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