GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - A former youth counselor who preyed on young boys both in person and online was sentenced today to 30 years in prison.
Jeffrey Victor Marchione was "a skilled manipulator with a keen eye for vulnerable children,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Tessa Hessmiller said.
Marchione, 48, was convicted on a variety of charges, including possessing and distributing child pornography. Federal investigators found more than 42,300 images and 1,644 videos of child pornography on computers at his home in Alto.
In a separate case, the married father of two was convicted in December of molesting a boy he met through a mentoring program when the boy was 9. The sexual assault took place when the boy was in his early teens. Marchione will be sentenced in that case April 14.
When he was arrested in July, federal authorities discovered a 150-page manifesto entitled "Hand Book 4 Child Lovers'' detailing how to find and molest children. The manual outlines "the advantages of finding sad and lonely children.''
Marchione "positioned himself in close contact with young teenage boys throughout the majority of his adult and professional life,'' the government wrote in a sentencing memorandum. He worked as a licensed counselor, a Big Brother and a mentor and was involved with 29 children as an adoptive parent, a foreign exchange host parent and foster parent.
A dozen letters in support of Marchione, some written by his former foster children, were submitted prior to sentencing.
In asking for leniency, defense attorney Michael D. Hills said Marchione was himself molested by a Boy Scout leader as a child. "The fact that he was molested as a child indisputably plays into his illegal actions,'' Hills wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
Marchione is battling nearly a dozen health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, back pain, depression and the effects of two heart attacks and hemorrhoid surgery, Hills wrote.
"The expense of incarcerating Mr. Marchione will be great with all of these problems and this should be considered in sentencing,'' Hills wrote.
Guidelines called for a prison term of between 30 and 50 years. Marchione will be 78 years old when he's released from prison.
Marchione served in the U.S. Army from 1987 and 1991 as an X-ray technologist and in 2009 earned a Master's Degree in Counseling from the University of Phoenix. He obtained a counseling license through the state of Michigan. His professional experience includes work at Metropolitan Hospital and at McKesson Corp., where he installed health information systems.
Marchione admitted that he began viewing child pornography in the fall of 2011, but stopped after the FBI searched his home in Aug. 2012, his attorney wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
"He was not on the Internet looking at child pornography 24 hours a day for years on end,'' the defense attorney wrote. "Rather, this level of collection was created in a short window of time.''
The investigation began in July, 2012 when undercover agents in New York and Illinois downloaded child pornography files from Marchione over a peer-to-peer file-sharing network. In the network's chat room, Marchione indicated that he had sexual contact with several boys ages 12, 14, 16 and 17.
When the FBI went to his Alto home with a search warrant, Marchione admitted to distributing child pornography. "He explained that his goal was to amass a large collection of child pornography because other users were more likely to trade child pornography with him if he had a bigger collection,'' the government wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
A forensic examination of chat logs between Marchione and other users of the peer-to-peer network include statements that he had sex with several boys under 18, including a 12-year-old he met through his children.
"I think about bad choices all the time. Can't believe I made it this far,'' Marchione wrote in one post.