FARMINGTON — A former probation officer for sex offenders in Farmington was sentenced Monday to eight years in federal prison for possessing child pornography.

Larry Franco, 57, was sentenced in federal court in Albuquerque to 97 months in prison followed by 10 years of supervised released. He will also be required to register as a sex offender and pay $21,000 in fines and restitution, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Gonzales said in a prepared statement.

Franco was arrested after an undercover investigation by Farmington police on a task force that targets Internet crimes against children, Farmington police Cpl. Russ Bradford said.

He was indicted Aug. 9, 2011, and charged with multiple counts of possessing child pornography. The next day, Franco, in an email, retired as a probation officer.

He pleaded guilty to the charges on April 27.

Franco admitted in his plea agreement that he kept child pornography movies on his personnel computer because he "wanted to know what probationer clients were looking at," according to federal court documents.

"Although my intentions in downloading these files was nothing more than to be able to know what to look for on offenders' computers, I cannot legally possess such items," Franco said in his plea agreement.

He had more than 600 images and videos of children performing sex acts, according to court documents.

Franco originally faced 29 child pornography charges in the Eleventh Judicial District Court.


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The state dropped all those charges when he was indicted in federal court.

Bradford, of the Farmington police, said a person's position in the community, the amount of illegal pornography in their possession and the age of the victims can determine if they are charged in state or federal court.

"I think (moving the case to federal court) had a positive effect on his sentence and his supervision after his sentence," he said. "We are very happy with his sentence."

Bradford said the children in the pornography on Franco's computer did not appear to be from San Juan County.

Bradford said police continue to work closely with probation officers.

"This was one person," he said. "We're continuing to work closely with probation and parole with cases that are currently going on."

Cristina Rodda, the public affairs director for the New Mexico Corrections Department, said Franco's former position has been filled but she did not say who was working in that job.

The supervisor of the sex offender unit manages between five to eight probation officers who directly supervise sex offenders.

It was not clear Wednesday where Franco will serve his prison sentence.