Former state Rep. Farnham pleads guilty in child porn case

  • Former State Rep. Keith Farnham leaves the Dirksen Courthouse in Chicago after his initial court appearance.

    Former State Rep. Keith Farnham leaves the Dirksen Courthouse in Chicago after his initial court appearance. George LeClaire/Daily Herald, April 2014

 
 
Updated 12/5/2014 5:46 PM

Former state Rep. Keith Farnham pleaded guilty Friday in federal court to transportation of child pornography and admitted to the 2,765 images found on his computers of children engaged in sex acts.

He will remain free on bail until he is sentenced March 19.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Prospectors anticipate a sentence between 12½ and 15½ years in exchange for Farnham's guilty plea, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said, but the sentence could range from as few as five years to as many as 20 years.

Defense attorney Terry Ekl said that even the minimum could mean a death sentence for his client. Farnham, 67, has bladder cancer and pulmonary fibrosis for which he needs a lung transplant, Ekl said after a brief hearing before U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang.

"His life expectancy was three years without a lung transplant, and he's approaching that now," Ekl said of Farnham, who stood before the judge wearing a shoulder harness containing a portable oxygen tank.

Farnham admitted Friday that he had on his computers, one of them state-owned, 2,765 images of minors engaged in sexually explicit acts, including some that "involved sadistic or masochistic conduct and depictions of violence," Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Storino said during Friday's hearing.

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Federal prosecutors say Farnham admitted sending an email in November 2013 from a computer in his Elgin office with the message, "do you trade. This is what I lik." Attached to that email were two files containing child pornography, prosecutors said.

"Are these facts true?" Chang asked during the court hearing after Storino recited the facts in the case.

"Yes," Farnham said.

Farnham was initially charged with possession of child pornography on April 28 and released on $4,500 bail two days later. He was subsequently charged with receiving and transporting child pornography.

Department of Homeland Security agents, investigating information that an email address later linked to Farnham was being used to trade child pornography online, raided the Elgin Democrat's home and office on March 13, according to the criminal complaint.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Farnham resigned his Illinois House seat March 19, claiming health issues. Former Elgin City Council member Anna Moeller was appointed to serve out the remainder of his term. She won the seat in last month's election.

"Our community is united in its collective horror and outrage over the abhorrent crimes committed by Keith Farnham," said Moeller, responding to Farnham's guilty plea in a prepared statement. "By trading in child pornography, Farnham helped fuel the vile market that leads directly to the sexual trafficking and exploitation of young girls and boys."

"Farnham's crimes are all the more troubling because he committed them while serving as our community's state representative," Moeller said.

As a condition of his bail, the former commercial painter was ordered to stay confined to his Elgin home except for physician visits, counseling sessions and meetings with his attorney. He was also prohibited from using a computer, accessing the Internet and having unsupervised contact with anyone younger than 18.

Farnham, first elected to the Illinois House in 2008, told reporters after his April bond hearing that he was being treated for hepatitis C and was battling bladder cancer and needed a lung transplant.

Without one, "I have a very limited future," he said at the time.

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