CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday imposed a 15-year prison sentence on a Wyoming man who had sought unsuccessfully to have his sentencing on child sex-crime convictions delayed so he could qualify for a military pension.
A federal jury in October convicted Army National Guard Lt. Timothy Wells of sexual exploitation of a child and other charges. Prosecutors say the crimes occurred at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne.
U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson of Cheyenne recently denied a request from Wells to release him from custody temporarily and reschedule his sentencing for April to allow him to finish the 20 years of military service necessary to qualify for a pension.
Assistant Federal Public Defender James Barrett told Johnson in court that Wells essentially was receiving a life sentence. Wells will have to register as a sex offender after his release from prison.
"His career is gone; his pension is gone," Barrett said. "His future, for all intents and purposes, isn't gone, but it is tremendously diminished."
The victim addressed Johnson, speaking softly while standing at a lectern in the large courtroom. The Associated Press is not identifying the victim.
"I feel like wherever I turn, I can't get away from it," she said, describing the effect of Wells' offenses on her life.
Prosecutor Thomas Szott told Johnson that the victim had suffered for a long time as a result of Wells' actions. "Mr. Wells is in this position, your honor, because of choices that he made," Szott said.
Wells addressed Johnson before the judge pronounced sentence. Wells wore orange jail clothing, and stood shackled at the wrists and ankles.
"In the Army, we're taught not to run from a fight," Wells said. He said he disagreed with some of the things that had been presented at the hearing.
In imposing the sentence, Johnson, himself an Air Force veteran, said Wells case was not the sort that often comes before a federal judge. He said he attributed that to the quality of the people who live on the Air Force base in Cheyenne.
"Deservedly so, we are proud of the men and women who serve in our military and in our national guard," Johnson said.
"This is a tragic moment and a sad moment for Mr. Wells and his life," Johnson said. "A life that, in many aspects, he tried to live with honor and failed" because of his fixation on the victim.
This story has been corrected to show Wells received a 15-year sentence. An earlier version reported incorrectly he received 18 years.