Friday, May 16, 2014
James Leone, 51, must serve 5 years of supervised release after completing the sentence.
Under federal guidelines, Leone faced 63 to 78 months in prison after pleading guilty in January 2013 to accessing a computer with intent to view child porn.
At the sentencing in Central Islip federal court, U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt called the graphic preteen videos and pictures that Leone had viewed "bad . . . awful."
Spatt doubted Leone would commit another crime, and noted that he had led an otherwise exemplary life and was receiving therapy, but said prison time was required as punishment and a deterrent to others.
"There was no justification for what I did," Leone told the judge before the sentence was imposed. He expressed remorse and said his actions have scarred him for life.
"I have spent the majority of my life protecting people . . ., protecting children," he said. "I betrayed a trust."
Eastern District prosecutor Allen Bode told Spatt that "everyone should know better," but especially Leone.
"He knew firsthand" about vulnerable children being victimized, Bode said.
Earlier in his career, Leone was a New York City parole officer and a child abuse investigator for the city's child welfare bureau, officials said.
Federal agents came across Leone while investigating people sharing child porn on the Internet, according to court papers.
Leone later admitted that he had been searching for "preteen hard-core" porn for about a year, but deleted anything he watched because he did not want his wife or child to see it, the papers said.
Leone resigned after his arrest in September 2012.
The 58-year-old, residing at 105 W. Line St. in Minerva, entered a plea of guilty to amend charges against him consisting of two counts of first-degree felony rape, seven counts of third-degree felony gross sexual imposition and one count of third-degree bribery.
According to Stark County Assistant Prosecutor Katie Chawla, who handled the case, the two rape charges were amended to a different section of the rape statute that eliminated the possibility of Patterson serving a life sentence. That was done in order to permit resolution of the case.
Chawla reported three of the youth are currently 11 years old, and she said one child, who was the basis of the majority of the charges, was 6 when the court determined the rapes began, in 2007. The rapes continued until they were reported to police in 2012.
Patterson was also charged with seven counts of gross sexual imposition and with bribery.
Chawla indicated allegations based on one of the charges he plead to involved Patterson offering something of benefit to the mother of one of the victims if she didn't go to the police.
"Some of the charges Patterson pleaded to involved a game of dirty truth or dare," Chawla also reported.
Chawla indicated the court action was a negotiated plea agreement because the families didn't want their children to have to testify in court. In addition to incarceration, Common Pleas Court Judge Kristin Farmer also sentenced Patterson to be registered as a Tier III sex offender. Tier III offenders are subject to strict address verification, and the community and the victim(s) receive notification whenever such an offender relocates to a new address.
Patterson started working for the Minerva Police Department in 1987 and continued as a full-time and part-time employee there for many years, even being praised for his work at one time as an Officer of the Month. Patterson left the police force to take another job that was not involved in law enforcement.
A secret grand jury indictment was issued against Patterson on Feb. 24 and a warrant for his arrest was issued by Judge Kristin Farmer of Common Pleas Court on the same day. He was taken into custody on March 13 by an unidentified U.S. marshal and Stark County Deputy John VonSpiegel. The arrest was conducted by the Northern Ohio Fugitive Task Force, and VonSpiegel was working as a part of the unit at the time.