Saratoga County

Prosecutors seek max for ex-Saratoga deputy convicted of child pornography

He is to be sentenced in March
Peter Farnum
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Peter Farnum

ALBANY — Federal prosecutors are recommending the maximum — 10 years in prison — for a former Saratoga County sheriff’s deputy convicted last summer of having child pornography on his home computer.

Peter W. Farnum, 42, is set for sentencing on March 12 in Syracuse after he was convicted by a federal jury.

Ahead of his sentencing, prosecutors and Farnum’s attorney have submitted their recommendations in the case. Farnum’s defense attorney, in a recommendation submitted Friday, asked for as little as time served, about nine months.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne A. Myers cited the images found on Farnum’s computer — the sheer number and the length of time over which Farnum downloaded and collected the images — in asking for the maximum 10-year term.

“The defendant, a trusted law enforcement officer by light of day, was a committed criminal when not in the public eye, and, for more than five years, spent much of his spare time actively seeking out, collecting, discussing, curating, and secreting an enormous collection of images and movies depicting the sexual abuse and rape of young children,” Myers wrote in his recommendation.

Evidence at trial showed Farnum’s family computer contained more than 1,000 images and video files that included child pornography.

Among the evidence, according to prosecutors, were files Farnum imported through the computer’s “RealPlayer” application while he conducted online research related to his police position — and while his wife was hospitalized following the birth of the couple’s third child.

Farnum, who was arrested in July 2017, claimed the case was the product of a bitter divorce. He had achieved the rank of sergeant with the Sheriff’s Department but was fired after his arrest.

During divorce and custody proceedings, Farnum’s estranged wife had the computer forensically analyzed and sent it to a company in Montana, where images of suspected child pornography were found. The police investigation then began.

Farnum’s defense attorney for sentencing, George F. Hildebrandt, argued a different sentencing suggestion — as little as time served, citing Farnum’s service in both law enforcement and the military.

“Mr. Farnum has already been substantially punished. He has lost his career in law enforcement, is a convicted felon, will have to register as a sex offender … and now faces a substantial period of supervision,” Hildebrandt wrote. “He does not need to be incapacitated from society.”

Senior Judge Norman A. Mordue is presiding over the case.

 

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