A plea deal is likely in the works for former Marketing professor Scott Ward, who is facing child-pornography charges.
Ward, 65, is awaiting arraignment on two counts of transporting child pornography and one count of giving a false statement to a governmental agency.
The arraignment has been delayed until May 20. U.S. District Judge the Honorable Petrese Tucker granted the motion to delay the arraignment, which was filed by Ward's lawyer, Mark Sheppard, and unopposed by prosecutors.
"One of the reasons was to avoid any unnecessary travel," Sheppard said. He added that "ongoing discussions" about the plea are another cause of the extension.
"I think we're all hopeful that [a plea bargain] can be worked out," he said.
Ward will have the opportunity to present a plea at the May 20 hearing.
Ward pleaded guilty last February to possession and transport of child pornography in Virginia and was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison after incriminating DVD's and photographs were found in his luggage at Dulles Airport last year.
Ward is being held in a correctional facility in western Pennsylvania and is required to travel to Philadelphia, still under custody, for the arraignment, which is a short hearing where he will be officially informed of the charges against him.
Legal experts speculate that plea discussions are aimed at minimizing Ward's time in prison.
"They're [likely] trying to get a sentence that is concurrent, that won't add any time," said Drexel criminal law professor Dan Filler, who is not affiliated with Ward's case. "Another factor is age - Ward's going to be 80 when he gets out" after finishing his sentence for his previous offense and likely would not want to increase his duration in prison.
However, prosecutors may not be as amenable to this deal, as "the U.S. Attorney may want to make an example of the case" to deter others from committing the same crimes, Filler added.
While the child-porn transportation charges are similar to Ward's previous conviction, the charge of fraud against the State Department - Ward allegedly lied in order to secure a visa for the Brazilian boy he molested - is new and considered a serious offense.
"There's a huge amount of prosecutorial discretion, that's just the reality of it," Filler said. It's hard to tell at this point what exactly to expect from a plea deal, he added.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bea Witzleben declined to comment until after the arraignment.Comments powered by Disqus
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