The former Minneapolis police officer who lured adolescent girls into sexual encounters via social media was resentenced Thursday in Anoka County District Court after the Minnesota Court of Appeals overturned a previous lighter-than-recommended sentence.
Bradley Schnickel, now 34, was sentenced to 102 months in prison, taking into account good behavior and time served, meaning he has 32 more months to serve for the five felonies he pleaded guilty to in May 2014.
“I apologize … hearing the letters of these victims … I truly apologize,” Schnickel told the packed courtroom.
After Judge James Cunningham read his new sentence, Schnickel bowed his head, then turned to look at his wife and his mother, who were seated right behind him.
In May 2014, Schnickel pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal or attempted criminal sexual conduct and two counts of electronic solicitation of a minor. He agreed to a plea deal with the Anoka County attorney’s office that it would seek a nearly 12-year sentence. But Cunningham took a dramatic downward departure from state guidelines, which calls for 102 to 142 months in such cases, and sentenced Schnickel to 2½ years in prison, with a lifetime conditional-release term. Under that sentence, he would have been released in June.
The judge stated at the time that the sentences requested by the prosecution and Schnickel’s attorney stood “in stark contrast to each other, and neither satisfies my sense of what is fair and what is just.” He rejected the longer sentence because it “didn’t take into account the work that this defendant has done to try to control these destructive urges and behaviors.”
In an unusual move, the Anoka County attorney’s office appealed Cunningham’s sentence to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. That court rejected the lighter sentence on May 11, sending the case back to Anoka County for resentencing.
The Appeals Court said a lower-court judge may depart from the sentencing guidelines only if there are substantial and compelling reasons to support departure. It ruled that Cunningham used improper offender-related factors to support his departure. The main reason he gave for the departure from sentencing guidelines was Schnickel’s amenability to probation, remorse and acceptance of responsibility.
During Thursday’s resentencing hearing, Paul Young, head of the criminal division for the county attorney’s office, read three additional impact statements.
Fred Bruno, Schnickel’s attorney, told the judge that Schnickel’s wife and their two daughters, now 2 and 4, changed their last name because they were “severely” victimized. Schnickel’s daughters “thought they’d see their dad next month,” Bruno added.
Anoka County authorities said that in Facebook and Skype conversations, Schnickel identified himself to middle- and high-school girls as “Brady Schmidt.” He told girls that they were “cute and sexy” or “hot,” and that he was attracted to girls as young as 12. Schnickel had 18 known victims, including two girls with whom he had sex, a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old.
He had previously been sentenced in Hennepin County to a year in the workhouse after pleading guilty last summer to sending nude photos of himself to two teenage girls.
He was arrested in Anoka County in February 2013. He was fired from the Minneapolis police force at that time.