Pedophile gets prison sentence of 340 years

2013-05-23T05:05:00Z Pedophile gets prison sentence of 340 yearsERIC BETZ Sun Staff Reporter Arizona Daily Sun
May 23, 2013 5:05 am  • 

If David Greenberg were to serve his prison sentence in reverse instead of forward -- and survive it entirely -- he would be released just in time to see Sir Isaac Newton define the laws of gravity.

Last month, Coconino County Superior Court Judge Cathleen Brown Nichols convicted the 45-year-old Flagstaff man on 23 of 26 counts last month.

On Wednesday, she sentenced Greenberg to the presumptive term of 17 years on each of 20 counts for sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class 2 felony and a dangerous crime against a child. The charges date back to 2009.

Arizona's sentencing laws require that those convictions be served consecutively, adding up to a whopping 340 years in prison. Nichols said that the defendant's actions had caused extreme harm to the victims and doubted Greenberg's expressions of remorse.

Prosecutors heralded the sentencing as eliminating a threat to society.

"The 'peeping' behavior by this defendant is merely the tip of the iceberg," said Coconino County Attorney David Rozema. "Greenberg is an extremely dangerous pedophile as shown by his horrific collection of child pornography and his surreptitious videotaping activities, including one episode involving a young Flagstaff girl in her bedroom. The threat of harm from this type of offender cannot be overstated."


The hasty trial and conviction by a judge instead of a jury was a tactic by the defense to speed the case along to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in hopes of having the evidence thrown out.

But that was not the topic at the courthouse on Wednesday.

During a sentencing hearing that lasted more than two hours, a prosecutor for the Coconino County Attorney's Office asked the judge for no fewer than 482 years in prison -- the maximum term -- while Greenberg's defense attorney asked for the minimum 190-year term.

Over the objection of the defense, a Flagstaff Police Department detective reviewed in detail the extensive investigation, describing how the man had videotaped young girls undressing in their homes, stalked a coworker at length, recorded himself masturbating while watching women in Cline Library and downloaded "buckets" of child porn.

The defendant had so much pornography that police officials made the decision not to look at most of it after they calculated it would take a detective one year of full-time work to review it all.

"There were so many videos I just didn't humanly have the time to watch every single video," said Sgt. Gene Shantz. "This was the most graphic, gutwrenching, stomach-turning content I've ever seen."


Greenberg had worked in a prestigious laboratory at NAU, doing scientific research and working toward his Ph.D.

Shantz said the case came together after Greenberg was arrested trespassing at a home and investigators suspected, based on talking to the defendant, that the man was a predator. Investigators combed through old cases in the area that were similar and found evidence to connect him to those peeping Tom cases as well. Detectives also learned that NAU police had contacted Greenberg for videotaping women in the library.

At his home, they found videos of the victims, as well as other children the defendant had recorded who couldn't be identified.

One of the young female victims said she spotted the red light of his video camera peering through her window as she undressed. Detectives recovered that video. The state recounted the victim's testimony that she couldn't sleep in her bedroom for months afterward until her parents remodeled the room entirely.


But it was the child pornography that the state used to send Greenberg away for the rest of his life. Among the cache of videos were heinous and depraved acts of violence to children, including an infant.

Greenberg's attorney, David Bednar, had argued that the sentencing violated his client's Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment, but the judge ruled that because she was sentencing him on multiple counts, it was not unconstitutional.

"I don't think that a 200-year sentence could be considered lenient under any circumstances, judge," Bednar said.

In an interview with the Daily Sun, Bednar said that he and his client knew that the sentence would amount to life in prison, but said their goal remained to have the case thrown out entirely on appeal.

"We believe that the trial court made the correct decision when it determined that the police had no right to search Mr. Greenberg's home," Bednar said. "We believe that there are factually similar cases in the Ninth Circuit that support the trial court's earlier decision of suppression, and we plan to accomplish the same for Mr. Greenberg."

At one point, Greenberg was released from custody and all but one charge was dismissed when then Coconino County Superior Court Judge Dana Hendrix ruled the Flagstaff Police Department had acted improperly.

The judge said that the search warrant contained facts "... so facially deficient that the executing officer could not reasonably assume it is valid." A detective also told Greenberg he only faced misdemeanor charges.

The ruling forced prosecutors to dismiss all but one charge, allowing the defendant to leave Arizona on probation.

Hendrix's decision was overturned by the Arizona Court of Appeals and Greenberg was rearrested in Maryland and brought back to Flagstaff in the back of a prisoner transport van over the course of a week.

Eventually, Bednar asked to have Judge Nichols determine his client's guilt, which set up the sentencing this week.


On Wednesday, with many detectives and victims in the audience, the defendant told Nichols that his obsession was shameful and disgusting. However, Greenberg said it was an addiction that never physically threatened anyone because he never actually touched any of the victims.

However, when detectives served a search warrant on his home, they discovered a tent set up as if it were a child's play area, as well as chemicals commonly used for rendering people unconscious.

When Greenberg was given his chance to address the court, he begged forgiveness from the people he victimized, adding that his legal situation was very bad for him.

"I'm addicted to pornography and I have been for a long time and I didn't know where to get help," he said. "The shame I feel no one can even begin to understand and I have to live with that for the rest of my life. I don't understand how I'm going to prison for the rest of my life."

Greenberg told the judge that he got himself caught because he wanted help, but he said he didn't expect the drastic consequences he now faces under Arizona law.

"I'm not interested in hurting anyone," he said.

Senior Trial Deputy Jonathan Mosher said he believed the defendant when he said he had an addiction, but told the judge that Greenberg's behavior had caused great harm. Each time a person views an image or video of a child being abused, that child is victimized again, Mosher said.

"When you possess an image of a baby being (sexually abused) you get the maximum -- period," Mosher said. "The defendant deserves an extreme punishment for his extreme crime."

Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Sun. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. RighteousnessExaltsANation
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    RighteousnessExaltsANation - June 02, 2013 11:27 am
    I have to wonder about the mindset and heart of people whose sympathies always go to the perps that destroy our children who will have to fight the memories and the personality disorders such as MPD (multiple personality disorder), gender identity crisis, phobias, broken relationships for the rest of their live (life sentence) and list goes on concerning the defilement of a pedofile. Whatever you focus your mind and emotions on you will act on in due time!
  2. clifffalling
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    clifffalling - May 28, 2013 9:28 am
    ...cont. What might I do in desperation? Am I angry? Will I lash out at those that I believe have hurt me?
    To employ that argument I could probably say with fair certainty that those banks that were "too big to fail" caused more heartache and crime than this guy ever could.
  3. clifffalling
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    clifffalling - May 28, 2013 9:25 am
    Sex crimes are still the most taboo in our society. Good, bad, or indifferent, that's the way it is right now. I would offer this; since so many folks in the comments section like to employ the slippery slope and straw man arguements... think of the trickle down from those "bank execs" and real estate investors. I lose my home, I lose my job.. I'm stressed, maybe I drink more. Maybe I am violent toward my spouse or children. Maybe I abandon them. Am I homeless now? cont...
  4. Fromthemiddle
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    Fromthemiddle - May 27, 2013 3:34 pm
    I'm with sheep on this one. So in Dans world those individuals who took out a mortgage they couldn't pay, the individual who artificially inflated the value of a house, the real estate agent who sold the house and the bank executives are equally bad to a sicko who preys on kids. Nice! I think Seinfeld called this the bizarro world.
  5. mom2008
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    mom2008 - May 25, 2013 4:37 pm
    I could not agree more NotASheep!!
  6. NotASheep
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    NotASheep - May 25, 2013 6:15 am
    Rehabilitation? That is not the main purpose of the criminal justice system, and being a pervert is not an addiction. It’s not "society’s fault" that this man chose to act out on his bizarre fantasies, it’s his fault. Whatever happened to personal accountability?
  7. NotASheep
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    NotASheep - May 25, 2013 6:07 am
    Get real Dan, this guy is a danger to society. You mention the waste of taxpayer dollars, then talk of the need for treatment and intensive probation - who would pay for that?

  8. mom2008
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    mom2008 - May 25, 2013 3:58 am
    Oh, and lets not pretend that we actually think that out prison system is anywhere near a rehabilitation center!!!!!
  9. mom2008
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    mom2008 - May 25, 2013 3:55 am
    Why are we worrying about overly punishing this man! He was watching little kids people!! I have no problem with locking this man up and throwing away the key!! I have children and a man like this is a DANGER! Did you not read the part about owning chemicals that are used to render people unconscious? Those are not chemicals you have just laying around!! He was a ticking time bomb!!!
  10. Mike G
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    Mike G - May 24, 2013 9:10 am
    Dan, I agree that it is excessive. The long sentence is the result of how the legislation was written; Arizona legislators require offenses like this to run consecutively. The other issue is a lack of resources to direct him to. AZ is "tough on crime", academia concluded decades ago that this doesn't work, particularly with addiction. Best practice is not what guides our CJ system as a whole, and AZ is probably one of the worst states when it comes to rehabilitation.
  11. Xeano321
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    Xeano321 - May 24, 2013 8:25 am
    Mr. Frazier, do you have kids? Would you appreciate this man looking through your daughters window, or your wife's window? The guy was watching babies being sexually abused! I have two nieces and four sisters, and if this guy was caught violating their privacy and innocents with his addiction, I would most certainly want him punished to the full extent of the law. You would really want this guy just to get counseling once a week, and run around loose the rest of the time? I sure don't.
  12. DanFrazier
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    DanFrazier - May 23, 2013 8:53 am
    The videos sound horrific, and obviously this guy has s serious problem. I can see him going to prison for a few years -- maybe even a decade or two. But this sentence seems excessive. What a waste of a life, not to mention tax-payer dollars. He needs treatment and intensive probation. Something is wrong with a judicial system that results in such cruel and unusual punishments for sex-related crimes. Meanwhile, bank executives who have ruined the lives of many thousands get a slap on the wrist.
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