Keith Farnham's path from lawmaker to registered sex offender

  • Keith Farnham

    Keith Farnham

  • Keith Farnham resigned his seat in the Illinois House last year after federal agents raided his home and office.

    Keith Farnham resigned his seat in the Illinois House last year after federal agents raided his home and office. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 3/19/2015 4:58 AM

Former State Rep. Keith Farnham resigned his seat in the Illinois House a year ago Thursday, the day the Elgin Democrat is set to be sentenced in Kane County on federal child pornography charges.

Farnham's path from a rank-and-file lawmaker in Springfield to a registered sex offender facing possible prison time started with a secretive raid by federal authorities on his state office.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The raid turned up evidence Farnham had traded child pornography online via his state computer, and he later pleaded guilty to charges unique among Illinois politicians in a state known for its imprisoned leaders.

Here's how Farnham's case played out.

December 2013: Farnham, a former commercial painter, files for re-election to the Illinois House from his Elgin-based district. No Republican enters the race, giving the incumbent what would appear to be a smooth walk toward winning a fourth term in office.

Police walk the halls of the Stratton Building in Springfield last year outside then-state Rep. Keith Farnham's office.
Police walk the halls of the Stratton Building in Springfield last year outside then-state Rep. Keith Farnham's office. - Daily Herald File Photo

March 13, 2014: Federal agents search Farnham's state office in Elgin and his home, taking computers. Officials don't explain the nature of the investigation, but the involvement of federal law enforcement suggests a serious probe.

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March 19, 2014: Farnham resigns from the Illinois House, citing "serious health issues." The Daily Herald would find that Farnham had perfect attendance to legislative sessions that year before his resignation.

March 21, 2014: The Illinois House releases the search warrant obtained by the federal government that allowed them to raid Farnham's office, giving the first indication that the investigation was about "documents in any format or medium pertaining to the possession, receipt, or distribution of child pornography."

March 29, 2014: Democrats pick Elgin City County member Anna Moeller to replace Farnham. She would go on to win the 2014 election and a full term.

Former State Rep. Keith Farnham leaves the Dirksen Courthouse in Chicago after a court appearance.
  Former State Rep. Keith Farnham leaves the Dirksen Courthouse in Chicago after a court appearance. - George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

April 28, 2014: Farnham is charged with possessing child pornography. The charges detail discussions he had via a Yahoo email address, such as, "(I) wish i had access to all the vids and pics ever made." The revelations shock local officials who didn't know Farnham's secret. "And it's just shocking that someone you know or someone you think you know would be engaged in that," former Elgin Mayor Ed Schock said. "It's very depressing, really." Farnham later gets home confinement and is prohibited from using his own patio.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Keith Farnham once ordered a taxpayer-funded coloring book with a photo of his face on the front.
Keith Farnham once ordered a taxpayer-funded coloring book with a photo of his face on the front. -

May 21, 2014: The Daily Herald reveals that Farnham often highlighted the dangers of "the sexual exploitation of children" and ordered a taxpayer-funded coloring book with his photo on the front.

May 23, 2014: Farnham is indicted, with the court papers including an online chat where Farnham is said to have typed: "12 is about as old as i can handle."

Dec. 5, 2014: Farnham pleads guilty. His attorney, Terry Ekl, says the former lawmaker is in poor health. "His life expectancy was three years without a lung transplant, and he's approaching that now," Ekl said.

Feb. 26: A judge rules Farnham's sentencing won't be delayed because of Farnham's illness. Earlier, he registered as a sex offender.

March 12: A week before Farnham's set to be sentenced, his attorney says Farnham was sexually abused as a child, which "ultimately resulted in a fascination with child pornography." He asks for a sentence of no more than five years. "The simple fact is that Keith Farnham will die within the next several months," a court filing says. "The reality is that no sentence the court imposes will be served,"

March 19: Farnham is set to be sentenced in Kane County after the hearing was moved because of his fragile health.

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