PITTSFIELD -- A 50-year-old registered sex offender living in Williamstown has been charged in federal court with sexually exploiting a 16-year-old boy.

According to U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Ronald Brown met the teen in an online chatroom in December, and between then and Jan. 19 proceeded to engage the teen in a long series of texts, chats, emails and video chats, many of which involved explicit sexual communications.

Brown allegedly arranged for the boy to run away from home, so they could live together as romantic partners. According to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Ian Smythe, Brown bought a one-way airline ticket for the boy to fly from his home to Newark, N.J., sent $150 for travel expenses, and instructed the boy to erase the computer files they had exchanged.

Authorities declined to reveal the boy's identity or his hometown.

The investigation into Brown began after the boy's mother discovered him missing and read numerous conversations between the boy and "Ronnie Brown" of Williamstown, containing "extremely sexual communications," along with the correspondence suggesting that her son flew to Newark on Jan. 19, according to the affidavit.

The mother contacted Williamstown Police who then contacted Brown and learned that at that moment he was driving north on the New York State Thruway with the boy. Brown agreed to pull his vehicle over and wait for New York State Police troopers to arrive and take the boy into their custody.


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Smythe, the FBI agent, interviewed Brown at the Williamstown Police Department. Brown initially denied requesting any nude photos of the boy or that he was 16. But once Smythe showed him print-outs of the chat session, Brown admitted asking for the photo and knowing how old he was.

Police confiscated Brown's 2008 Dodge Ram, laptop computer and cell phone. Authorities found "multiple additional images and videos" of young men, whose ages and identities are unknown, but that Smythe believed to be child pornography.

Brown is also facing charges of receiving material involving the sexual exploitation of minors, possessing such materials, receiving child pornography, possessing child pornography, enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He remains in federal custody.

Brown, a level 2 sex offender considered of moderate risk to re-offend, is facing up to 50 years behind bars, followed by a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

In 1995, Brown was convicted and sentenced for sexually assaulting and providing alcohol to a 12-year-old boy at a campground in North Canaan, Conn.

Brown was sentenced to serve five years in jail and five years of probation in that case.

To reach Josh Stilts:
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