TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - James Haley Jr., a former Vigo County Sheriff's Deputy appeared before a federal judge Tuesday morning in Terre Haute.
Haley Jr., 32, entered a guilty plea for possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to 68 months and lifetime supervision after his release from federal prison.
Haley Jr., was originally arrested on March 15, 2013. The investigation into his online sharing began earlier in the year.
The felony has the potential to carry up to 20 years in prison and between 5 years and a lifetime of supervised release.
Haley Jr. and his attorney, Joe Etling, came to a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney through Senior Litigation Counsel Steven DeBrota.
In court Tuesday, the judge agreed to guilty plea and moved forward with a same day sentencing of Haley Jr.
In federal court, a scale was used to determine the level of the felony by Haley Jr. In that scale, the possession of child pornography ranks an 18; however, additionally "points" were marked against Haley Jr. since the photos and videos featured children under the age of 12, children involved in violent sexual acts, were located on a computer, and were in a collection of more than 600.
Things acting in support of Haley included taking responsibility for his actions and cooperating with the investigation in signing the plea agreement.
The father of Haley Jr., Jim Haley Sr., was called to the witness stand. That's where the judge and others learned of his inoperable cancer that's left him on disability.
Haley Sr. read a letter from Haley Junior's younger sister who was not in the courtroom at the time due to work obligations.
She called her brother a "big piece of the family" and a good uncle, protector, and a great brother.
Haley Sr. noted "sad moments" visiting his son in the Clay County jail and talking through glass and a telephone.
He also cited his son's lifelong dream to be a Sheriff's Deputy and his strong work ethic.
Haley Sr., a former deputy himself, called his son remorseful and sorry. He's watched his only son take an inventory of his life while in solitary confinement for the last six months. He also spoke of the growing faith he's seen in Haley Junior during this time and said his son "lost every dream he's had".
After Haley Sr. spoke, his wife and Jim Haley Junior's mother, took the stand.
Mrs. Haley talked about the health of her son failing, weight loss of 50 pounds, and the fact that he seemed "bothered" by life in jail.
She introduced to the court a man who visited his grandmother once a week and always called home.
Upon hearing about his arrest, both parents recalled being shocked by the news of their son and his actions.
Mrs. Haley called her son a "good person who made a horrible mistake" and said he is "not a monster".
In the end, she said that as a mother, she made a lifetime commitment to her child and she will not abandon him in his time of need.
The defense also introduced Jim Haley Jr. to speak on his own behalf. He, similarly to both of his parents, was very emotional when speaking in front of the judge.
He called the hardest part of the process listening to his parents in the courtroom just moments earlier. He said he's very sorry for what he called a "grave error".
Haley Junior noted that his actions caused pain and suffering to many victims, to whom which he offered a sincere apology.
He reminded the judge that he never sought a release from jail before trial, which can be offered in many cases. He's lived with minimal family visits in isolation since that decision.
Haley Jr. said he's lost everything because of his mistake: a 6 year relationship and engagement that was called off after the arrest, his professional career and dream as a law enforcement officer, and the respect of his friends and family. He also noted he takes sole responsibility for his actions, and he promised to be a law abiding citizen, steady, honest, and reliable, after his release.
After the suspect spoke, the defense attorney wrapped up statements about Haley Jr.. He focused on his strong family support system, the multitude of letters received on his behalf, and his unlikeliness, supported by a consultation, to re-offend. In the end, he asked for the minimum sentence possible, 60 months, for his client.
Steve DeBrota, Senior Litigation Counsel for the U.S. Attorney, spoke next. He said Haley minimized his actions my calling them a "mistake" and an "incident". He cited 40,000 files on the computer, tucked away in more than 500 "sub-folders" in a pattern of downloading behavior that lasted 6 months.
The prosecution pointed to Haley Jr. as one person helping create a market for child pornography, noting a serious attraction to minors as a major problem.
The prosecution said their core responsibility is to protect young victims, and said he feared how "successful" Haley Junior was at living a "double life" for more than 6 months while downloading and looking at these types of files.
In the end, the judge's decision would be the one that binds. The federal judge mentioned part of the undercover investigation when an officer was able to download more than 100 files from the user who was later found to be Jim Haley Jr. The judge explicitly shared details of one file to show the gravity of the problem and the violent nature of some of the videos.
The judge called it an "unsettling" fact that a person charged with protecting the public would do this.
The federal judge accepted the plea and sentenced James Haley Jr. to 68 months in a federal prison. He also demanded he receive sex offender management behind bars. Haley Jr. will also pay $2,500 in restitution to one of the known victims in a number of the videos and photos in his collection.
After his release, he will be on supervised release for life. He'll be a registered sex offender in every state that he works or resides in. He also must consent to searches of his home, car, person, and computer, as well as a monitoring device on his computer. Haley Jr. will also not be allowed unsupervised time with children unless it's approved.
As of Tuesday, it's not clear which federal prison Haley Jr. will spend his sentence.
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