SL man to be sentenced in child porn case — again

Aug 17 2012 - 10:08am

Images

This photo provided by the Utah Office of the Attorney General shows D. Chris Robertson, a Salt Lake City man who has been found guilty on state charges of sexual exploitation of a minor less than two years after receiving probation in federal court in the same case. Robertson faces up one-to-15 years in prison on each of the 20 counts at his Oct. 17, 2012, sentencing hearing. (AP Photo/Utah Office of the Attorney General)
This photo provided by the Utah Office of the Attorney General shows D. Chris Robertson, a Salt Lake City man who has been found guilty on state charges of sexual exploitation of a minor less than two years after receiving probation in federal court in the same case. Robertson faces up one-to-15 years in prison on each of the 20 counts at his Oct. 17, 2012, sentencing hearing. (AP Photo/Utah Office of the Attorney General)

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Salt Lake City man could face up to 300 years in prison after being found guilty on state charges of sexual exploitation of a minor less than two years after receiving probation in federal court in the same case.

The move has his defense attorney screaming double jeopardy, while state prosecutors say there is no constitutional violation.

D. Chris Robertson, 61, was arrested in September 2009 after authorities say employees at his business, Sabol & Rice, an HVAC equipment supplier in Salt Lake City, reported seeing disturbing pornographic images and videos on his work computer.

Investigators with the state Attorney General's Office say they found thousands of explicit images and videos, including some involving extremely graphic and violent assaults on children as young as 5 years old.

The case was handed off to the U.S. Attorney's Office for federal prosecution, and Robertson agreed to plead guilty to one count of child pornography possession.

Assistant State Attorney General Paul Amann said Thursday such a charge could have carried a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison, but instead Robertson was credited for two days in jail, given probation and ordered to pay a $75,000 fine.

State prosecutors didn't feel the punishment fit the crime, Amann said, so they filed their own charges.

This week, Robertson was found guilty and now faces one to 15 years in state prison on each of the 20 counts at his Oct. 17 sentencing hearing.

His attorney argues it's a clear case of double jeopardy, which is supposed to protect defendants under the Constitution from being tried twice for the same crime.

"When they didn't get the prison term they were hoping for, they turned around and filed state charges against my client," said attorney T. Langdon Fisher.

He said Robertson accepted responsibility all along for his crimes, but pleaded not guilty to the charges in state court to reserve his right to appeal.

While Fisher recognizes the law allows for so-called prosecutions by "separate sovereigns" -- meaning state and federal authorities can pursue a criminal defendant separately but on the same charges -- he claims that isn't the case here.

Fisher said he will argue in an appeal that his client's Fifth Amendment rights were violated when state authorities initiated the case, then handed it over to federal prosecutors, and later took it back to pursue themselves.

"This essentially makes a mockery out of the protections against double jeopardy," he said.

Amann insists there was no constitutional violation.

"The state has a substantial interest in the protection of children," he said, "and that was not vindicated through the federal case."

 

 

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