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Former Lutheran official to accept plea agreement

In criminal cases, when prosecutors have significant evidence and the accused individual has effectively confessed to authorities, a strategic plea for the reduction of charges is necessary to ensure that overcharging or over-sentencing doesn't occur. And that will likely be the case for a former Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod official who, as of March 8, was close to a plea deal in his child pornography case.

The 52-year-old Waukesha man was charged with three counts of possession of child pornography after investigators found illegal images and videos on his home computer and a USB drive at his office. After an investigation by the FBI Cyber Crimes Task Force, the man was charged with distributing child pornography.

According to the plea agreement, the man would plead guilty to one of the charges against him, and the other two charges would be dropped. However, those other two charges could still be considered by the court during sentencing.

After the charges were filed against him in November, the 52-year-old was fired from his job at the synod, though he denied downloading any illegal material while at work. He also said that he never created his own pornography.

As readers can see, a conviction for this type of Internet crime can carry serious consequences, and many people who are charged with such a crime never could have imagined enduring the associated penalties. In this particular case, the 52-year-old defendant could be sentenced to 15 years in prison and an additional 10 years of supervision. His plea agreement may well seek a reduction of those penalties.

Source: jsonline.com, "Guilty plea expected for former Lutheran official in child porn case," Mike Johnson, March 8, 2012

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