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Child porn investigation catches California lawyer

  • Story Highlights
  • Wade Rowland Sanders admitted to having 600 images of minors on his computer
  • Sanders was chosen to introduce John Kerry at the 2004 Democratic Convention
  • Sanders will be sentenced March 30 and could get up to 10 years in prison
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(CNN) -- A lawyer who served in the Clinton administration and more recently was an adviser to California's lieutenant governor pleaded guilty to a child porn charge in a San Diego federal court Monday.

Wade Rowland Sanders admitted to having 600 images of minors on his computer, including a video depicting "several prepubescent females engaged in sexual conduct with an adult male and performing oral sex on one another," according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Karen Hewitt.

FBI agents raided Sanders' home last May after they suspected his home Internet service account was used to download several pictures and a video showing underage girls having sex with adult men, according to an investigator's sworn statement.

"Sanders admitted that he had downloaded child pornography using the program Limewire but that he deleted the files once he noticed that they had been downloaded," FBI Special Agent John Caruthers said.

A search of Sanders' computer found the child porn files saved on his hard drive in two "My Documents" folders, Caruthers said.

At least one of the young girls in the photos was identified and is a "known victim," the investigator said.

When Sanders, 67, is sentenced on March 30, he could get up to 10 years in prison and be ordered to pay a $250,000 fine. The minimum sentence for the charge is five years with supervised release for his lifetime and registration as a sex offender, the prosecutor said.

FBI agents discovered the illegal downloads as part of a nationwide initiative called Project Safe Childhood. The multi-agency program, which began in 2006, is "designed to combat the growing epidemic of child exploitation and abuse," the U.S. Attorney's statement said.

Sanders was a U.S. Navy Swift boat captain during the Vietnam War, where he earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He retired from the U.S. Navy as a captain.

Sanders was chosen by fellow Swift boat veteran John Kerry to introduce him at the 2004 Democratic Convention, when the senator accepted the presidential nomination.

He briefly entered the 2000 congressional race in a San Diego district, but withdrew citing lack of funding. He ran as a Democrat.

Sanders served as the senior adviser to California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi for Veterans and Military Affairs until the time of his arrest, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. He was also in the Clinton administration as a deputy assistant secretary of the Navy.

When Garamendi's office announced Sanders' appointment in July 2007, it said he was a practicing lawyer and a community activist.

"He is a member of the San Diego Police Department Senior Oversight Committee and has served on many non-profit boards," the lieutenant governor's office said.

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