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Former Navy official receives 37 months in prison in child porn case

May 4, 2009 |  4:40 pm

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Wade Sanders, a former deputy assistant secretary of the Navy in the Clinton administration, was sentenced today to three years and one month in federal prison after pleading guilty to possessing hundreds of images of child pornography.

Federal prosecutors in San Diego had recommended a sentence of 63 months, but Sanders' attorney had sought probation, arguing that Sanders suffered obsessive-compulsive disorder linked to post-traumatic stress disorder from his combat service in Vietnam as a "swift boat' offficer.

The U.S. Attorney's office recommended that Sanders, 68, a lawyer, retired Navy captain, and former adviser on veterans affairs to California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, be sent to a federal facility that treats sex offenders whose crimes did not include contact with victims. The placement decision will be made by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Court documents indicate that 600 images of child pornography, some with children as young as 6, were found on three computers owned by Sanders, who allegedly belonged to a file-sharing network that traded in child pornography. He had been collecting the images for at least five years, according to court documents.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Whelan rejected Sanders' explanation about obsessive-compulsive disorder and PTSD. Among the people sending letters seeking leniency for Sanders were U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), former Rep. Lynn Schenk (D-San Diego) and former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.)

Sanders was ordered to surrender to federal authorities in early July. He could have received a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Sanders was a frequent commentator on military affairs for radio, television and newspapers. He was briefly considered as a possible Democratic candidate for Congress.

-- Tony Perry

Photo: Associated Press

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