A former state representative from Illinois has been indicted on federal child pornography charges following an investigation conducted by the Department of Homeland Security. Agents discovered that he was conducting illegal activity on his state-owned computer.
Former Rep. Keith Farnham, 66, is suspected of using both personal and state government computers to exchange hundreds of pictures and videos depicting child pornography and to participate in graphic online chats in which he allegedly boasted about molesting a girl who was only 6 years old.
Farnham abruptly resigned from his position as an elected Illinois representative in March following a federal criminal complaint alleging that he possessed two videos depicting child pornography on a computer that was seized from his state office.
Law enforcement agents suspect Farnham linked a Yahoo! email account to an online trading forum in which he chatted with other users about his sexual preferences, according to the federal indictment.
“12 is about as old as i can handle,” Farnham allegedly said during an online chat, according to the charges. “i love them at 6 7 8.”
Farnham became the target of a Department of Homeland Security investigation when federal agents received a tip from its Cyber Crimes Center that an email address was being used to trade child pornography on the Internet. Authorities later traced the Internet usage to a cable account at Farnham’s home.
In a November 2013 chat with a person identified only as “User A,” Farnham allegedly described in detail sexually molesting a 6-year-old girl. A few weeks later, Farnham allegedly said to User A, “I wish I had access to all the vids and pics ever made.”
Prosecution of Child Pornography (18 U.S.C. §§ 2252 and 2252A)
Crimes related to child pornography are generally prosecuted at both the state and federal level. If you are prosecuted for violating federal child pornography laws, nothing prevents a state from pursing its own prosecution as well. This does not amount to a “double jeopardy” violation of your rights. Rather, it falls under a concept known as “dual sovereignty,” which means both the state and federal government have independent jurisdiction over the crime.
Pursuant to federal law under 18 U.S.C. sections 2252 and 2252A, it is a felony offense to transport, receive, distribute, sell or possess with intent to sell any visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct if doing so involves interstate or foreign commerce.
Federal law can only be applied when unlawful sexually explicit material involving minors crosses state or national borders. However, virtually any crime involving the use of the Internet is subject to federal prosecution given the worldwide nature of online communication.
Federal Consequences of a Child Pornography Conviction
If you are convicted of violating federal child pornography laws, you face severe consequences. A first offense for selling, transporting or distributing child pornography is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. If you have a previous state or federal conviction involving child sexual abuse, child pornography, or child sex trafficking on your record, you could face up to 40 years in prison.
Generally, simple possession of child pornography is punishable by up to 10 years in prison with no minimum mandatory sentence. If a U.S. attorney is able to prove that the sexually explicit material you possessed involves a child under the age of 12, you could face up to 20 years in prison upon a first conviction.
You can also be fined up to $250,000 for each felony violation of federal child pornography laws.
A U.S. District Court judge will also sentence you to a period of not less than 5 years and up to lifetime supervision following a conviction for violating federal child pornography laws, in addition to any prison sentence you may receive. A condition of federal probation for a sex offense will likely require you to be electronically monitored using a GPS device during a period of supervised release.
Most devastating, you will also be required to register under the federal Sex Offender Registration Notification Act (SORNA, also known as the “Adam Walsh Act”). Federal law requires sex offender registration for 15 years, 25 years, or for life, depending on the nature of the crime.
How Many Years In Prison Could Former Rep. Farnham Face?
Farnham is charged for possessing child pornography with one count of possessing child pornography involving a minor under age 12, one count of receiving child pornography and two counts of transporting child pornography.
Three of the charges require a minimum sentence of 5 years each, so Farnham is facing at least 5 years in prison if sentenced concurrently and a minimum of 15 years if sentenced consecutively. If he is eventually convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum of 80 years in a federal penitentiary.
Ironically, Farnham twice co-sponsored bills in the Illinois House of Representatives that increased penalties for child pornography.
Wallin & Klarich Can Help You Fight Federal Child Pornography Charges
If you or someone you love has been accused of a federal child pornography offense under 18 U.S.C. sections 2252 or 2252A, you should contact an experienced federal criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich immediately. Our sex crimes defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully representing our clients facing the serious consequences of a state or federal child pornography conviction.
Federal penalties for possessing, selling, transporting or distributing illegal matter involving minors engaged in sexually activity can be severe. A conviction can lead to decades in prison, substantial fines and mandatory sex offender registration.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our experienced sex crimes defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you avoid a conviction that can ruin your reputation and cause you and your family a lifetime of hardship. We will pursue every available option to help you get the best possible result in your case.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.