UPDATED: Bjerknes Sentenced In Federal Court
The former Bemidji Middle School assistant principal who pleaded guilty in state court to four felonies for posing as a teenage boy online while having sexual conversations with students has been sentenced on federal charges to 25 years in prison and will remain under supervision for life.
One of the victims parents tells Lakeland News that they are “ok with the sentencing, but are feeling emotionally drained,” after reading their statement and listening to others.
Brandon Bjerknes, 35, pleaded guilty to federal charges on Sept. 28. He was sentenced on one count of coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual conduct and one count of production of child pornography.
Bjerknes is not eligible for parole, but will have to serve at least 85% of his sentence, but with good behavior he could receive a 15% reduction.
Gregory G. Brooker, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota, and Angela M. Munoz-Kaphing, Assistant United States Attorney, requested a 30 year sentence for Bjerknes followed by a lifetime term of supervised release.
Peter B. Wold, the attorney representing Bjerknes, had requested a 15 year sentence in his Sentencing Positioning Statement.
Last week court documents released by Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela Munoz-Kaphing, Bjerknes admitted that he regularly exchanged nude and sexually explicit photographs and text messages with a teacher that he worked with at Bemidji Middle School and an 18-year-old woman who babysat his children.
Bjerknes created fake social media profiles to contact at least 55 known minor victims over the course of multiple years. He also used, persuaded, enticed and coerced six known minor victims to produce child pornography.
Bjerknes used both his personal and Bemidji School District issued iPhones to create a permanent record of sexually explicit Snapchat messages from three known minor victims while he was serving as assistant principal at Bemidji Middle School.
Bjerknes will be sentenced for state charges on Thursday, February 8 in Beltrami County District Court.