A Billings man who admitted collecting child pornography for 15 years will spend about nine years in federal prison.

Senior U.S. District Judge Jack Shanstrom on Wednesday sentenced Shane Jon Braaten, 29, to nine years and two months and ordered a lifetime of supervised release. He also ordered Braaten into custody.

Braaten pleaded guilty in July to one count of receiving child porn.

Shanstrom gave Braaten a slight break from a guideline range of 10 years to 12-1/2 years but rejected a defense request for a five-year term, which was the minimum mandatory.

“I think you are on the right track,” Shanstrom told Braaten, who voluntarily went to sex offender treatment after getting caught. The sentence, Shanstrom said, will protect society and give Braaten time for treatment while in prison.

“I know what I did was wrong, and I’m sorry,” Braaten said. Before treatment, Braaten said he never thought of the children in the pictures and movies as victims.

Assistant federal defender Steve Babcock argued for a five-year sentence, saying that’s “enough but not more than necessary.” He called the guideline range “overkill” and said more courts nationwide are varying from the high guideline ranges in child porn cases.

Braaten had no criminal record, has been steadily employed, voluntarily went to treatment and has not relapsed, Babcock said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia Hurd recommended a low-end guideline sentence, saying Braaten already benefited by not getting some enhancements that would have pushed his sentencing range higher.

With few exceptions, Montana’s federal judges have stayed within the guidelines when sentencing child porn offenders, Hurd said.

Braaten, who began collecting child porn when he was in eighth grade, knew it was wrong but was unable to stop himself, she said. Investigators found about 2,000 images and 131 videos when they searched Braaten’s computers.

An investigation began in May 2009 when an FBI agent in Billings found that a computer in Billings had child porn videos available through a file-sharing network. The agent downloaded images and a search warrant was carried out on Braaten’s residence on Nov. 19, 2010.

Contact Clair Johnson at cjohnson@billingsgazette.com or 657-1282.

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