CHICAGO — A federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment Thursday charging former Illinois State Rep. Keith Farnham with possessing, receiving and transporting child pornography. Farnham was initially charged with one count of possessing child pornography in a criminal complaint filed last month in U.S. District Court.
This indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Chicago.
Farnham, 66, of Elgin, Illinois, was indicted May 22 on the following charges: one count of possessing child pornography involving a minor under age 12, one count of receiving child pornography, and two counts of transporting child pornography, all via computer. Farnham, who was previously released on his own recognizance with conditions, including home incarceration and electronic monitoring, will be arraigned on a date yet to be determined in federal court.
This indictment also seeks forfeiture of a computer hard drive that was seized at Farnham's residence March 13, when HSI agents executed federal search warrants at Farnham's state office and residence in Elgin.
Farnham resigned his seat in the Illinois General Assembly March 19.
According to the complaint affidavit, HSI special agents were investigating information received from HSI's Cyber Crimes Center that an email address, later linked to Farnham, was being used to trade child pornography via the Internet.
Possessing child pornography of a minor under age 12 carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Each count of receiving and transporting child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Petersen.
An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.