Attorney Michael J. Stachowski says his client lived in a fantasy world made up of chat rooms, instant messaging and child pornography.
He also insists that Joseph A. Koehn never intended to solicit a 4-year-old girl and videotape the two of them having sex.
The judge in Koehn’s case didn’t accept that and on Tuesday sentenced the Buffalo man to 20 years in prison.
“I don’t buy this fantasy argument,” Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny told Koehn.
“In my view, the detailed nature of your plan and your past conduct clearly indicate you intended to have sex with a 4-year-old girl.”
Koehn, 30, never admitted trying to solicit the young girl, but that didn’t stop prosecutors from arguing his intentions, unlike the girl, were real.
An undercover informant working with the FBI and Buffalo police had apparently convinced Koehn that there was a girl and that he could have sex with her in return for $5,000.
“He tried over and over again,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie P. Grisanti. “The details tell us he was going to go through with it.”
Grisanti dismissed Koehn’s “vigilante justice” defense – he contended at one point that he was going to turn the girl over to police – and pointed to a prior sexual offense involving a 16-year-old girl.
Even more telling, she suggested, is that Koehn was arrested after he showed up at a meeting site in Buffalo looking for the girl.
“It’s not often that we know what’s in the head of a defendant,” Grisanti said. “In this case, we do.”
Koehn, a registered sex offender at the time of his arrest in 2009, said that it was never his intention to hurt anyone.
Over and over again, he portrayed his contact with the FBI informant as a cry for help, a way out of the dark, lurid world from which he wanted to escape.
“It was just conversation that got way out of control,” he told Skretny. “It was all fantasy.”
Stachowski urged the judge to consider a sentence of time served – Koehn has been in jail for more than four years – and suggested that his client would be better served by psychological counseling, not more prison time.
He said that Koehn suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which is linked to his own sexual abuse at the hands of a family member and insisted that his “fantasy world” was a consequence of that abuse.
To prove his point, he reminded the judge that Koehn and his then-wife worked minimum-wage jobs and could never have paid the $5,000 demanded by the informant.
“These were thoughts,” Stachowski said of his client’s interest in the 4-year-old girl.
“There was no child.”
Koehn, who has two young sons, pleaded guilty last year to possession of child pornography and attempted production of child pornography.
Prosecutors say images and videos of child pornography were found in his laptop computer after his arrest.