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October 11, 2007

A defendant a bit too motivated to present mitigating evidence

A friendly reader sent me a link to this interesting local story discussing a recent development about a federal sentencing proceeding in Arkansas.  Here are the highlights:

A motivational speaker accused of filming girls as they undressed and downloading images of infant rape submitted forged letters of support in an attempt to reduce his prison sentence, a federal judge found Tuesday.  The ruling could mean tougher punishment for Michael V. Fortino, a Pittsburgh man who was arrested on child pornography charges in 2005 after a speaking engagement in Fayetteville.

Fortino, 47, was sentenced last week in U. S. District Court to 11 years and three months in prison then 20 years of supervised release after entering a plea agreement charging him with one count of transmitting child pornography across state lines.  Prosecutors and probation officers, who conducted pre-sentencing investigations, had asked for leniency, saying Fortino had accepted responsibility for his actions and had cooperated with investigators.

But last week, the U. S. attorney’s office filed a motion to vacate the sentence after receiving information that led them to believe that two letters, including one supposedly written by the father of a girl who had been secretly taped, were fake.  Judge Jimm L. Hendren said that had the court known Fortino submitted fraudulent letters, his sentence likely would have been harsher. 

October 11, 2007 at 01:05 AM | Permalink


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