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Ex-delegate McKee pleads guilty to child porn possession

could face prison term

September 05, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

BALTIMORE -- Former Maryland Del. Robert A. McKee on Friday entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court to a charge of possession of child pornography.

Conviction on the charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and supervised release for life.

Under the plea agreement, McKee, 59, of Halfway, could serve 37 to 41 months in prison and will have to register as a sex offender. The former Republican lawmaker will be sentenced Nov. 21.

McKee was charged Tuesday in a federal information, nearly seven months after Washington County Sheriff's deputies, acting on a tip from someone living in McKee's home, seized computers and other items from the residence.

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U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. has discretion as to the length of McKee's sentence and supervised release, according to Marcia Murphy, public affairs specialist for the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.

In orders the judge issued Friday, he indicated that McKee must register as a sex offender within three days of his sentencing, Murphy said. The Bureau of Prisons has jurisdiction over where McKee will be held if he is sentenced to prison time, she said.

During the arraignment, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bonnie Greenberg said a computer taken from McKee's house contained between 10 and 150 images, some of which involved pre-pubescent minors. Greenberg said McKee had been obtaining such photographs from Web sites as far back as 2004 as well as through mail-order service.

McKee's journals document that he simultaneously printed images of child pornography from the Internet and printed stories describing sexual acts between young boys and other young boys or adult men, Greenberg said. McKee's journals reflect that he looked at the pictures while he read the stories, said Greenberg, who mentioned specific sites that McKee visited.

Some of the images were of known child victims from outside Maryland identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's database.

Greenberg said someone from McKee's home called the Washington County Sheriff's Department to tip off authorities and provided them with printed images from a computer.

Deputies searched the home Jan. 31, and an investigator from the FBI cybercrimes unit was called in to assist with the investigation, Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore has said.

During the search of McKee's house, two computers, printed material and videotapes were confiscated, police said at the time.

News of that search was made public Feb. 15, the same day McKee announced his resignation from his House of Delegates seat. He also resigned that day as executive director of the local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter after 29 years with that organization.

McKee had served as a state delegate since 1995 and was chairman of the Western Maryland delegation when he gave up his General Assembly seat.

He was president of Halfway Little League from 1980 to 1985 and from 1992 to 1994.

McKee on Friday quietly answered the judge's questions, addressing him as "your honor," during a hearing that lasted about 20 minutes. He told the judge he is employed, working eight hours a day, but did not say where he worked.

He was not taken into custody Friday and he remained free but with restrictions, including electronic monitoring.

His attorney, Timothy F. Maloney, asked the judge whether McKee had permission to attend church on Sundays and provide care for his 85-year-old mother. The judge said that would be up to pretrial services, which monitors defendants.

As McKee left the courtroom, Maloney said his client had no comment. Maloney also declined to comment outside the courthouse when asked questions by members of the media.

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