Balyo’s testimony could reduce sentence

John Balyo in court. (June 23, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The U.S. Attorney’s Office is asking a federal judge to reduce the 40 year prison sentence of John Balyo, a former West Michigan radio host, by 20 months due to his help in the conviction of another man found with child pornography.

Federal prosecutors say Balyo gave them information about Donald Lee Rabideau Jr. and child pornography that would be found on computers in his Kent County home. Rabideau is expected to plead guilty Wednesday to a receipt of child pornography charge.

According to federal prosecutors, Balyo was keeping some computers and devices at Rabideau’s home, and after his arrest tried to get him a message to get rid of the items. Police were told of the message and got the computers before they could be tampered with.

Balyo later spoke with federal prosecutors about looking at child pornography with Rabideau and his wish to abuse children. However, there is no evidence Rabideau had any contact with kids.

“In comparison to Balyo, Rabideau is a much more minor player and did not produce his own child pornography or commit hands-on offenses against children, to the government’s knowledge. However, without the information provided by Balyo, Rabideau would likely not have become a target of this investigation,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tessa Hessmiller writes in a motion to reduce Balyo’s sentence.

Balyo was sentenced last December to 40 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release. Balyo pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography.

He is also serving a state sentence of 25 to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct against a child in Calhoun County. He is being held at the Belamy Creek Correctional facility in Ionia.

A federal judge will decide if, and by how much, Balyo’s sentence will be reduced based on his help in the Rabideau case.

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