Former Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors months after investigators uncovered a secret life that they say involved child pornography and a rendezvous with a 17-year-old boy he had met through Craigslist’s personal ads.
Shortey, a Republican who resigned last spring amid allegations that he had solicited sex from the teen, will plead guilty to a child sex trafficking charge, his attorney, Ed Blau, said. Prosecutors will drop three child pornography charges as part of the plea deal.
“After looking at all the evidence and case law and statutes and everything else, we just felt that this would give him the best opportunity to come out with the best outcome possible,” Blau told The Washington Post. “It would’ve been an extraordinarily difficult case to win a trial.”
Had Shortey gone to trial and lost, he would’ve been looking at a 30-year prison sentence at the very least, Blau said. The sex trafficking charge is punishable by at least 10 years in prison. Federal law requires defendants to serve at least 75 percent of their sentence. In Shortey’s case, that would be 8 1/2 years, but a judge will ultimately decide on what his sentence would be.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Oklahoma City said he can’t comment on the plea agreement but pointed out that Shortey is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 30 for a plea hearing.
Shortey, who represented a portion of Oklahoma City, was first charged in Cleveland County in March, after police officers found him and the underage teenager in a motel room. Authorities said the two had been talking since they met on Craigslist the year before and later agreed to go to a Super 8 motel in Moore, Okla., just south of Oklahoma City.
Investigators also found messages the two had exchanged on a messaging app called Kik.
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