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Iraq vet gets 5 years for receiving sexual pictures of boy, 13

A gavel cracks down. (Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)
February 11, 2020

An Iraq War veteran who received sexual pictures of a 13-year-old Manchester boy with whom he communicated online for four days in June 2017 was sentenced Wednesday to five years in federal prison, the mandatory minimum for the crime he had admitted, soliciting and receiving child pornography.

A lawyer for the man — Brian Gregan, 33, who has listed an address on Seymour Road in Windsor Locks — traces his misconduct to psychological problems and alcohol abuse he developed as a result of service in the Iraq War when he was in the Marine Corps.

“He witnessed first-hand the devastating injuries caused by the explosive devices he was charged with locating,” defense lawyer Michael Chase wrote in a sentencing memorandum, adding that Gregan recalled caring for his team leader who suffered a fatal wound.

“Following a deployment to Iraq, Brian developed symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder,” Chase continued. “After his second deployment, he become lost, depressed, and felt increasingly alone.”

As Gregan’s struggles with alcohol worsened, he was discharged from the Marine Corps, which Chase described as “the role that had once given him purpose.

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“Like so many veterans of the war in Iraq, Brian didn’t seek professional help immediately upon his return,” Chase wrote, adding that he turned instead “to alcohol and other substances to blunt the feelings and changes in himself he didn’t understand.

“It was during the low of these dark times that Brian committed the offense for which he is now to be sentenced,” the lawyer continued.

Chase said that Gregan has fully complied with release conditions since his initial arrest on state charges in April 2018, has been getting mental-health treatment, and has gotten and held a job.

Gregan’s communications with the boy weren’t his only inappropriate involvement with a teenager. He admitted in his written plea agreement that he met a 15-year-old girl online in 2016.

He had consensual sex with her after she turned 16, which is legal in Connecticut. But a law enforcement search of his tablet computer uncovered a sexually explicit video of her taken when she was younger than 18, the age threshold for child pornography under federal law.

Manchester police Detective Christopher Morrissey, who investigated the case, wrote in an affidavit that Gregan admitted he had internet conversations with as many as six to 12 people younger than 18. But prosecutor Neeraj N. Patel acknowledged during Wednesday’s sentencing in U.S. District Court in New Haven that it isn’t known whether those conversations were sexual.

The prosecutor argued that Gregan’s recommended sentence range under federal guidelines should be increased because a 15-second video the boy sent to Gregan showed him engaging in a potentially painful act. The judge, who viewed the video before coming into court, called it “disgusting and awful” but said it didn’t constitute a depiction of sadistic or masochistic conduct because it included no physical signs of pain.

The judge gave Gregan until April 7 to report to prison.

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© 2020 Journal Inquirer