March 23, 2009
FORMER RAYMONDVILLE ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER SENTENCED FOR CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) - Samuel E. Baker, 44, a former animal control officer for the Raymondville Police Department, has been re-sentenced to a lengthy prison term for possessing and receiving child pornography, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. The sentence represents the upper end of the applicable sentencing guideline range.
At a hearing this morning, United States District Judge Hilda Tagle ordered Baker to serve a total of 200 months in federal prison for his three counts of conviction for possession and receipt of child pornography via the internet. This sentence will be followed by a lifetime term of supervised release. Baker was convicted by a jury’s verdict following a two-day trial in January 2006. After his conviction and sentence of 20 years, an appellate court dismissed the guilty verdict on one count of distribution of child pornography and remanded the case for resentencing.
During today’s hearing, Judge Tagle held Baker responsible for possessing 1,111 images of child pornography, including images of very young children (toddlers and babies). Judge Tagle, in pronouncing Baker’s sentence, told Baker her job was to protect the public and asked, “...how can I protect the most precious segment of our society?” Baker’s sentence includes further increases to the base offense level for use of a computer and images of sadistic, masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence. Because the defendant refused to admit his guilt, he received no credit for acceptance of responsibility.
As part of his lifetime term of court supervision following his release from prison, the court also ordered Baker to register as a sex offender, participate in sex offender programs, have no unsupervised contact with children and have no access to any internet service or computers.
The investigation which lead to Baker’s arrest, conviction and today’s sentence began with the discovery by investigators of the Texas Attorney General’s Office of images of child pornography on a Yahoo! group site. Investigation led investigators to a computer at Baker’s residence in Raymondville, Texas, where investigators found more than 1000 images of child pornography on Baker’s home computer. Another 100 images depicting sexually explicit activity upon children were found on floppy disks in Baker’s office at the Raymondville animal shelter, some of which were also found on Baker’s home computer.
In February 2005, Baker denied possessing or uploading child pornography, although he did admit to viewing child pornography on the internet while looking for adult pornography. At trial, the defense was unsuccessful in its attempt to convince the jury Baker had never been seen viewing child pornography nor had he knowingly possessed or received the child pornography.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This case was investigated by the Texas Attorney General’s Office and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Terra Bay and Joseph T. Leonard.
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