June 6, 2013

Sex offender who tried to change name is sentenced

6-6-2013 Oregon:

The world has seen the last of Winter Rain Waters.

On Wednesday, the man who helped create that fake name in a failed attempt to escape his criminal past as a sex offender was sentenced in federal court in Eugene. But Michael Allen Snow wasn’t given any more time behind bars because he already has spent more than a year in jail awaiting the outcome of his case.

Instead, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken imposed a strict set of conditions on Snow, including up to a year in a residential rehabilitation center to prepare him to re-enter society. Snow, 29, will remain under Aiken’s supervision for three years, reporting to her monthly to ensure he is obeying the court-imposed restrictions.

Those include a sex offender assessment, mental health treatment, blood tests to show whether he is taking prescribed medications, registration as a sex offender, and being barred from places where children congregate. Aiken said Snow can earn the chance to have the restrictions gradually loosened by showing he can comply.

“What you need, and what will make society the safest, is structure,” Aiken told Snow.

Aiken crafted an unusual sentence to deal with an unusual case. Snow, who has past convictions for rape and sodomy, admitted helping concoct and carry out a plan with a Eugene midwife to submit false birth records in order to get a new birth certificate, driver’s license and other documents in the name of Winter Rain Waters.

Snow and midwife Willy Whitebird, the mother of Snow’s then-girlfriend, cooked up a story about how the “parents” of “Waters” were counterculture types who lived “off the grid” and did not believe in registering the birth with authorities. According to court documents, Snow thought Eugene was about the only place the plan would work because “there are a ton of hippies around here.”

As Waters, Snow wouldn’t have a criminal record and wouldn’t have to register as a sex offender, a requirement for most people convicted of sex crimes. The plan almost succeeded, but when he had his picture taken for a driver’s license as Waters, facial recognition software caught the resemblance to Snow and the plan unraveled.

The government asked for a two-year sentence, the most that prosecutors could seek under the terms of a plea agreement and federal sentencing guidelines. But because he already has served 13 months in the Lane County Jail since his arrest and because he would likely qualify for time off for good behavior, Snow probably would not have gone to prison and instead would have been sent to a “halfway” or recovery house for six months and then released.

Aiken said that by placing him under court supervision, she can better ensure not only that Snow remains law-abiding but that he also receives the treatment he needs. Snow has a form of bipolar disorder and another syndrome that causes him to experience delusions of grandeur, but both are well-controlled as long as he takes prescribed medication, Snow said.

Aiken said prisons are ill-equipped to deal with mental health problems and said society would be better served with better access to robust community mental health programs.

“We cannot use the jails as our mental health facilities,” she said.

Aiken noted that Snow was convicted of rape when he was 16 and that the victim was at least two years younger than him. He was initially sent to a juvenile facility and suffered “terrible abuse,” Aiken said.

After serving about eight years in custody, Snow was released in late 2009. About six months later he began the scheme to become Winter Rain Waters, only to be caught in early 2012.

Whitebird, the midwife, pleaded guilty late last year to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and was sentenced to five years of probation and 250 hours of community service. She also had to give up her nursing license. ..Source.. by Greg Bolt

No comments: