A former Minnesota federal probation officer was sentenced to 2½ years in prison for lying to the FBI in connection with accusations that he used his authority to extort sexual favors from women he supervised.
The sentence given Tuesday to Dennis E. Bresnahan, 56, of Forest Lake, from U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pratt was an upward departure from federal advisory guidelines of zero to six months in prison but less than the four years that the prosecution was seeking.
Before handing down the sentence in St. Paul, which includes two years of probation after he leaves prison, Pratt said this case "exemplifies public corruption and disrespect for the law" and called Bresnahan's sexual conduct "loathsome and appalling."
His guilty plea on March 1 to two counts of making false statements to a federal agency included him admitting to sexually improper behavior despite not being charged with that conduct.
The sentencing wraps up this case while a lawsuit filed by his accusers against the U.S. government and Bresnahan pushes forward in federal court before the same judge. A trial has been set for October.
In early 2016, Bresnahan asked one woman on probation for a topless photo of herself. She sent it, and he later called her and asked her to send more topless photos, but this time she was recording the calls.
When FBI agents asked the 25-year probation veteran about the photos in August 2016, he told them he had only asked for and received one sexually explicit photo of the woman. He also denied having other explicit photos of defendants.
But as the FBI pressed its investigation, "agents learned that he had sexually inappropriate relationships" and had received more sexually explicit photos from women he supervised, according to the plea deal and indictment. Some of that conduct dated back to 1994, according to the prosecution.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Allyn, a prosecutor on the case, said Tuesday that Bresnahan's "despicable conduct would never have come to light but for the women who courageously spoke out about what they endured."
A defense filing ahead of sentencing acknowledged that Bresnahan, who left his job in September 2016, "takes full responsibility for those crimes" but urged the judge to impose a sentence of two years' probation and no time in prison because he has no other criminal history and is "unlikely to reoffend."
The document also pointed out that he began a new job as a vocational manager at the Mille Lacs Academy in Onamia, Minn., teaching "life skills" to young people. The academy's residential programs are designed for boys ages 10 to 19 who have significant mental health challenges and "unhealthy sexual behaviors," the school explains on its website.