United States v. Prophet, No. 18-3776 (3d Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Prophet pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography, 18 U.S.C. 2252(a)(4) and 11 counts of receipt of child pornography, section 2252(a)(2). The court applied a two-level enhancement for distribution (U.S.S.G. 2G2.2(b)(3)(F)) based on Prophet’s use of LimeWire, a peer-to-peer file-sharing network. Prophet maintained that he did not know that LimeWire made his files available to other users. The court noted that “distribution” “is not restricted to acts with intent only,” and sentenced Prophet to 168 months’ imprisonment plus 15 years of supervised release. The Third Circuit affirmed. Prophet moved to vacate his sentence in 2015 based on a Third Circuit holding that the offense of distribution of child pornography under section 2252(a)(2) based on the use of a peer-to-peer network requires evidence that another person accessed the material. The Third Circuit affirmed the denial of the petition.
Prophet subsequently challenged the application of a two-point Guidelines enhancement for distribution of child pornography, citing 2016’s U.S.S.G. Amendment 801, limiting the enhancement to those who “knowingly engaged in distribution.” The Third Circuit again denied relief. Amendment 801 is not a clarifying amendment that can be raised and retroactively applied under 28 U.S.C. 2255. The court noted that Prophet was released from prison in 2019 and is now serving supervised release.