Ken Christesen blasts 'lack of spine from all involved'

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FARMINGTON — San Juan County’s sheriff is angry after a man found in possession of 5,800 images of child pornography — mainly of toddlers and infants younger than 12 months old — was given a plea bargain and a sentence he said melted a potential 93-year state prison term down to eight months in the local jail.

Bloomfield resident Andrew Long must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life but is expected to only serve a remaining eight months in jail, Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jayme Harcrow said in a press release Monday.

At a sentencing hearing Monday morning in Aztec District court, the District Attorney’s Office approved a guilty plea from Long on one charge. The other remaining charges were dropped.

Per the sentence by Judge Bradford J. Dalley, Long will “serve his time at the local detention center, receive work release and have unsupervised visits with his young children,” the Sheriff's Office release stated.

“This resulted in a significant reduction from 93 years to an 11-year maximum and 1 year minimum,” the sheriff’s release stated.

That didn’t sit well with the sheriff.

“The lack of spine from all involved is appalling; to sentence this predator to our county jail and utilize county resources on a state conviction is absurd,” Sheriff Ken Christesen said. “This individual should be in a state prison, he should not be allowed unsupervised visits and work release. Child pornography is not a victimless crime! If we are not willing to protect our children, what are we willing to do?”

More: Man arrested on child pornography charges

Dustin O'Brien, San Juan County chief deputy district attorney, told The Daily Times he didn't know where the Sheriff's Office got the idea that what the DA's Office did was inappropriate. He said prosecutors sought a total of 11 years for Long. 

"We exposed him to significantly more time than the court ultimately gave him," O'Brien said.

More: Man arrested in porn case faces new charge

O'Brien stated it is inaccurate to state Long could have faced a 93-year sentence, adding he doesn't see courts sentencing people to 93-year sentences for child pornography. 

O'Brien said charges depend on the number of devices allegedly used for possession of child pornography, not the number of images found.

More: Child pornography suspect accused of manufacturing, distributing material

Long originally faced multiple charges, including three felonies — possession, manufacturing and distribution of visual medium of sexual exploitation of children.

In August of 2017 Long again was arrested, that time on five additional felony charges consisting of two counts manufacturing, two counts of distribution and one count possession of visual medium of sexual exploitation of children. Those charges later were dropped.

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