Former probation officer sentenced to 17 years for exploitation of girl, 13

·6 min read

Aug. 6—BEVERLY — A former probation officer for the state's Trial Court was sentenced Friday to 17 years in prison for asking a 13-year-old Texas girl for sexually explicit photos and videos of herself, and sending lewd images of himself to her, back in 2018.

Brian Orlandella, 49, of Beverly, the former assistant chief probation officer at Lynn District Court, was convicted in April of one count each of sexual exploitation of a child and transferring obscene material to a minor, following a six-day jury trial in U.S. District Court.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf said he was imposing what he thought was no more than necessary punishment to deter similar conduct — but after finding that Orlandella had perjured himself during a pretrial hearing in the case, said he'd also taken that fact into consideration.

"I'm persuaded that you lied to me, you knew you were lying to me and even after you were arrested in this crime, you committed another crime, perjury," Wolf told Orlandella. "I can't say what I would have given you if you hadn't lied to me."

But with a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years on one of the counts, it would have been at least that length of time.

Orlandella was using the "Kik" app on two different cell phones in the spring of 2018 when he began exchanging messages with the girl. Her mother found the messages and images and went to police; Homeland Security eventually took over the case and arrested Orlandella in December 2018.

Orlandella, who grew up in Medford, had been a probation officer for the state since 1998. He submitted a sheath of letters of support from family, friends, and from a retired police officer and a defense lawyer, all urging the court to spare him from a longer prison term. Given an opportunity to speak, he instead asked his lawyer to read the letter his daughter wrote on his behalf.

In that letter, Orlandella's daughter described how her father helped get her past a tough time when she was injured while doing gymnastics as a 12-year-old, how he instilled mental toughness in her even as, she wrote, she believes her father didn't know how to express his own emotions.

"I don't see the benefit of putting a good man away for 20 years," his daughter wrote.

But then Wolf read sections of a letter the victim's mother had written, describing the lasting trauma on her daughter, who had to be pulled out of school and who blamed herself for causing severe stress in her family.

"While you were inexplicably asking this vulnerable 13-year-old girl to gratify your own sexual desires, you were inflicting harm on her, and others," Wolf said, mentioning her family as well as Orlandella's own family. "I'm confident you would be deeply disturbed and angry if someone induced your daughter to do this."

The sentences requested by prosecutors and Orlandella's attorney were more than a decade apart.

Orlandella's attorney, James Cipoletta, asked Wolf to impose the mandatory minimum sentence of 180 months, or 15 years in prison, citing the impact of a long prison term on his family.

Prosecutors Anne Paruti and Adam Deitch, however, asked Wolf for 329 months, or about 27 1/2 years.

"It is difficult to overstate the seriousness of the defendant's crimes," the prosecutors wrote. "His conduct is beyond abhorrent; he targeted a 13-year-old middle schooler who professed her love for him, called him 'Daddy,' and did whatever he wanted her to. The imbalance in their 'relationship' is almost as jarring as the exceedingly graphic content he sent her," which they described in their filing. As he's sending images of himself engaging in lewd acts and asking her to help him achieve an orgasm with more pictures of herself, "she sends him pictures of her coloring project and repeatedly tells him about her upcoming track meet."

They also point to Orlandella's "abuse of his position of public trust."

Sentencing guidelines calculated by the court's probation department recommend a sentence of 235 to 293 months — but prosecutors sought the higher sentence because of what they said was Orlandella's intentional misrepresentation about the conduct of investigators.

Orlandella, who had sought to suppress a statement he made to investigators the morning of his arrest, took the stand during the 2020 hearing and testified that not only did federal agents not provide him with his "Miranda" rights, but he did not know what Miranda rights were, despite a 20-year career as a state probation officer at that point.

Wolf spent much of Friday's hearing discussing that issue and whether it was an intentional lie.

In response, Cipoletta compared the federal agents showing up at Orlandella's Beverly home to the raid that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden.

"The early morning violent Bin Laden style raid on his home was a traumatic one to all within the residence," Cipoletta wrote.

Any statements made by his client, he said, were the result of being traumatized by the "armed invasion of his home and the intimidation of he and his family," Cipoletta argued.

Wolf disagreed.

Cipoletta argued that Orlandella, "but for this one wrong-way turn in life, led an exemplary life devoted to public service and to family."

He also urged the judge to consider that Orlandella never had direct physical contact with the girl.

"Given the circumstances here, there is no basis to conclude that the public needs to be protected from Mr. Orlandella," Cipoletta argued.

Prosecutors do not share that view.

"The defendant was an Assistant Chief Probation Officer in one of the busiest courts in the Commonwealth," Paruti and Deitch wrote. The court serves not only the city of Lynn but four North Shore towns: Marblehead, Swampscott, Nahant and Saugus.

"He committed this crime — which is, in itself, outrageous, despicable, and disturbing — while he was living with his family: his wife, his teenage daughter, and his teenage son (who was just a couple of years older than the victim when he got caught), all while he held this position of public authority and trust as an arm of the court," the prosecutors noted. "And no one knew what he was doing behind the 'gianninyny' username and avatar."

"The fact that there were no red flags that should have triggered heightened scrutiny by those who knew and loved him or those who encountered him professionally is the problem here," Paruti and Deitch wrote, expressing concern about his conduct when released — a point that will come no sooner than when he is 65, the judge noted.

After his prison term, Orlandella will spend five years on probation, and will be required to register as a sex offender and undergo a sex offender evaluation and treatment.

He was also ordered to have no unsupervised contact with anyone under 18 and must pay a $5,000 penalty to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking fund.

In a statement released after the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said Orlandella "took advantage of a vulnerable, 13-year-old girl" even as he held himself out to be a trusted member of the law enforcement community, something "that couldn't be farther from the truth."

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis