Judge to sentence ill ex-lawmaker for child pornography
A federal judge will weigh questions about terminal illness and what constitutes just punishment when he sentences a former Illinois lawmaker for compiling and trading more than 2,000 pornographic images of children online.
The judge will impose some prison term on Keith Farnhan, who pleaded guilty in December to transporting child pornography. The Elgin Democrat faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years; the maximum sentence is 20 years.
But Farnham, 67, suffers from the lung disease pulmonary fibrosis and his doctors said he likely has less than six months to live. The main question yesterday is whether Judge Edmond Chang will send Farnham to die behind bars or allow him to serve his term under home arrest.
IMPRISONING A DYING MAN
Prosecutors said imprisoning Farnham would give child pornography victims some sense of justice, even though they agree the minimum five-year sentence may be appropriate, given his life expectancy. They also say federal prisons are equipped to handle cases like his, including by offering hospice care.
Farnham's lawyer, Terry Ekl, says he has already been paying a price in public disgrace and that putting a dying man in prison would benefit no one.
Citing Farnham's poor health and need to carry oxygen tanks to breath, the judge took the rare step of moving sentencing from the Chicago federal courthouse to a state courthouse less than 2 miles from Farnham's suburban Chicago home, in the district Farnham represented for five years.
Farnham, who resigned his seat in 2014 days after agents raided his home and office, had advocated tougher child pornography laws as a legislator.
Investigators found videos depicting the sexual abuse of children on a computer of Farnham's labeled 'Property of the State of Illinois House of Representatives,' according to a federal complaint. Many images were of children under 10; some were of toddlers or infants.