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A former assistant principal admits using kids at his school in child porn

He tricked kids into sending nude pictures.

A former assistant principal at Bemidji Middle School is headed to a penitentiary after pleading guilty to child porn charges Thursday. 

Brandon Bjerknes, 35, was charged in federal court with coercing and enticing a minor and with producing child porn. 

What he did

Prosecutors say Bjerknes created a fake persona on social media, telling high school and middle school kids he was "Brett Larson" of Duluth and was 13 or 15 years old. 

In his guilty plea Bjerknes admitted using Facebook and Snapchat to get in touch with victims both male and female, the U.S. Attorney's office says. He turned the conversations toward sex and then asked the kids for nude pictures or videos. 

When federal agents searched his phones and computers they found images of more than 50 victims, prosecutors say, including some students at the middle school where Bjerknes worked until April of this year.

He had been an assistant principal in Bemidji since 2014 and by the time he resigned last spring he had already been charged in state court with soliciting children. 

Possible life sentence 

Punishment for the crimes Bjerknes admitted includes a minimum of 15 years in prison but the sentencing guidelines call for a life sentence, the Pioneer Press reports

Now that Bjerknes has entered a guilty plea, his lawyer may argue for a shorter sentence. 

“Obviously, (he has a) mental illness and he’s gone to work to try to address that,” Peter Wold told the Pioneer Press. “It doesn’t have to be a life sentence.”

The chief deputy with the Beltrami County Sheriff's office, Ernie Beitel, said in Thursday's statement: "Our hope now is that the victims and their families can begin the process of healing and finding closure.”

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