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UPDATE: McKee to appear in federal court Friday in child porn case

September 03, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- Former Maryland Del. Robert A. McKee will plead guilty to a federal charge of possessing child pornography, his lawyer said Tuesday in a faxed news release.

The charge stems from a search of the former Republican lawmaker's home and personal computers earlier this year. No court date was set for formal acceptance of the plea.

McKee's initial appearance and arraignment before a federal judge is scheduled for Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, The Associated Press reported.

A spokeswoman for the Maryland U.S. attorney says McKee can enter a plea at the hearing.

McKee, 59, of Halfway, had material containing images documenting the sexual abuse of children, which had been transported by computer, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein alleged in a prepared release.

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McKee's attorney, Timothy F. Maloney of Greenbelt, Md., announced the pending plea agreement shortly after the Justice Department filed a criminal information against McKee that alleges the images were transported across state lines or through foreign commerce.

"Mr. McKee is accepting responsibility for his actions," Maloney said in the release. "Since his resignation from the legislature, Mr. McKee's main focus has been on getting well and staying well. He continues to progress with professional assistance and strong support from his family and friends and the Hagerstown community."

McKee was not taken into custody, according to Marcy Murphy, public affairs specialist for Rosenstein's office in Baltimore. Murphy said Tuesday she could not confirm that McKee had entered into a plea agreement.

Conviction on a federal charge of possession of child pornography carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, followed by a maximum of supervised release for life, and a $250,000 fine, the U.S. attorney's office said.

A person convicted of such a possession charge is considered a child sex offender and must register as such, Murphy said.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, said Tuesday that he saw McKee recently, and the former delegate seemed in good spirits.

McKee has admitted he was wrong, Myers said.

"He is doing everything possible to mend his life and get things back in order," Myers said. "He told me he's trying to do what's right."

Murphy said the filing of a criminal information, and not an indictment, means that McKee waived a presentation of charges to a federal grand jury, Murphy said.

No local charges had been filed against McKee as of Tuesday, Washington County State's Attorney Charles Strong said.

"Pending what develops in the near future, a decision will be made whether to file charges or not," Strong said.

McKee announced his resignation from Maryland's House of Delegates and from his position as executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County on Feb. 15, the same day news broke that Washington County Sheriff's Department investigators had searched his home in January.

McKee had served in the Maryland House of Delegates since 1995. He was in his fourth term representing Subdistrict 2A, which includes parts of Washington County outside the City of Hagerstown.

The Sheriff's Department received a telephone call Jan. 31 from someone who alleged that child pornography could be found in McKee's home, Sheriff Douglas Mullendore said during a Feb. 15 press conference. Investigators with a search warrant went to McKee's home about 10 p.m. that same day, Mullendore said.

During the search, investigators seized two computers, about 30 videotapes and a "significant amount" of printed material, including magazines, Mullendore said at the time.

In a faxed statement released Feb. 15, McKee described the situation as "deeply embarrassing" and said he had instructed his attorney to cooperate with law enforcement.

The statement also said that McKee had entered treatment.

McKee, in a telephone conversation last month with The Herald-Mail, said he was advised by his attorney not to talk to the media.

Two investigators, one from the sheriff's department and one from the FBI's computer forensics team, worked on the case, Mullendore said Tuesday afternoon.

The investigation was completed about 45 days ago, after which the case was in the hands of prosecutors, he said.

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