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FILE NO. 1:16 CR 147



Law enforcement became aware of Mr. Hall via their investigation

called “Operation Playpen,” of which this court is aware. As part of that

investigation, the government assumed the operation of a large private

organization dedicated to, among other things, aiding in the distribution

of child pornography. During its tenure as a child pornographer, the FBI

identified 150,000 consumers of child pornography and prosecuted some

unknown, small percentage of those consumers. The government’s

criteria for determining which of the 150,000 to prosecute is unknown and

unknowable, as the answer depends on trusting people who would

distribute child pornography and then ask non-consumers of it to trust

that their secret deliberations were performed with integrity. Mr. Hall is

one of those whom the government prosecuted.

This court has sentenced 15 people for convictions related to child

pornography whose prosecutions begun since the end of “Operation

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Playpen.”1 Those sentences range from 27-252 months imprisonment as

follows: 27 months, 36 months, 50 months, 60 months, 60 months, 75

months, 76 months, 100 months, 102 months, 108 months, 114 months, 120

months, 204 months, and 252 months. Mr. Hall derives the following


There are two sentences far longer than all the rest. It is likely that

those two individuals were persons who either produced child

pornography themselves, had some direct responsibility for its

production, harmed a child personally while committing their criminal

conduct, or a combination of more than one of those factors. As indicated

in the PSI, Mr. Hall has no record of harming children and, in fact, his

recent record in Asheville2 is one of simple nuisance-making and


1Without access to the PSI’s of all defendants, Mr. Hall cannot know for
certain which of those prosecutions arose out of that investigation. Since
the court has seen all of those PSI’s, the court is better aware of the exact
breakdown. Mr. Hall believes it fair to assume that many of those
prosecutions arose out of this very large investigation. Still, even those
which were not conceived in “Operation Playpen” are analogous if they
involve similar conduct.
2There are old convictions in the PSI which are not Mr. Hall’s. The court
will determine at sentencing if, for purposes of this sentencing, they may
be attributed to him. In any event, none of them are for harm or potential
harm to children.

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Of the remaining individuals, they are evenly split between

sentences of less than 60 months and sentences of 100-120 months (with

two right in the middle at 75 and 76 months. It is likely that the group

with the higher sentences are those who have shown the court some

indication that their viewing of child pornography was extensive, long-

standing, and/or likely to be repeated if not treated. As this court is

aware, many persons who commit this type of crime are those who are

likely to re-offend without intensive treatment, and those persons, if not

very young men, are likely to have shown some previous indication of

sexual interest in children. Mr. Hall is now nearly 52 years old and, even

if the court attributes every conviction in the PSI to him, has never shown

any inclination toward this type of conduct. While counsel for Mr. Hall is

unfamiliar with the testimony at trial, having been appointed after the

trial but before sentencing, it seems clear from the record that Mr. Hall’s

interest in the photos and videos was one of curiosity rather than desire,

and is thus highly likely to be deterred by a prison sentence.

Finally, among the lowest sentences this court has given, Mr. Hall’s

conduct is likely to be in the middle of that range. To be sure, Mr. Hall’s

failure to admit responsibility for his curiosity about things he knew to be

unlawful is not mitigating. However, the number of images in this case is

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far lower than the number this court sees in a “regular” case of this nature,

which suggests his viewing of the images was not a regular event for him.

Moreover, while his attempt to remove the images from his computer

indicates a lack of acceptance of responsibility, it similarly indicates a lack

of interest in keeping the images. Since no other evidence suggests that

Mr. Hall was a regular consumer of child pornography, the destruction of

the images shows that, combined with the deterrent effect of the sentence

he is to receive, he is unlikely to obtain such material in the future since he

does not have a natural compulsion to it.

Mr. Hall requests a sentence of 60 months imprisonment in order to

“avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar

records who have been found guilty of similar conduct.” 18 U.S.C. §

3553(a)(6) (2010). For the reasons argued above, this sentence “reflect[s]

the seriousness of the offense, promote[s] respect for the law… provide[s]

just punishment for the offense … [and] afford[s] adequate deterrence to

criminal conduct.” 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2) (2010).

THIS the 27th day of August, 2018.

/s/ Eric J. Foster
Attorney for the Defendant
22 South Pack Square, Suite 300
Asheville, North Carolina 28801
(828) 771-4787

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I hereby certify that I served a copy of the foregoing Sentencing

Memorandum on the following by filing it electronically with the Court.

Mr. David Thorneloe

Assistant United States Attorney
100 Otis Street
Asheville, North Carolina 28801

THIS the 27th day of August, 2018 .

/s/ Eric J. Foster

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