A former corrections officer with the Camden County Sheriff’s Office received his sentence in federal court Monday for receipt of child pornography, to which he pleaded guilty in May.
Vincent Sanders faced a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence going into the hearing. In making his guilty plea, Sanders admitted to using terms specific to child pornography in online searches, and was found with around 45 such files in his possession, including a video that is more than 20 minutes long and other files depicting crimes against children younger than five years old.
In giving the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said it’s people like Sanders who, while they’re not committing the crimes against these children, are facilitating those crimes by providing a market for those images.
An additional issue that came up was the disappearance of Sanders’ Ruger 9 mm service weapon, which was allegedly stolen out of his vehicle. Jacksonville, Fla., police later discovered the gun in a hotel room with a human trafficking victim. However, further investigation revealed no connection to Sanders in the matter, other than it was his gun that was taken.
Noting there was a wide gulf between what the defense requested and what the sentencing guidelines suggested, Wood sentenced Sanders to eight years in prison, which she noted is a lesser sentence than what it could have been, thanks to Sanders’ otherwise lack of criminal history and his acceptance of responsibility in the matter.
He’s also to serve 15 years’ supervised release, a period of time during which he can only use a computer for work-related and other pre-approved reasons, and while a federal probation officer installs and monitors tracking software to keep tabs on his activity.
In other federal sentencings Monday, Xontavious Dionte Hawkins received a term of 15 years and eight months in federal prison and six years’ supervised release for possession with intent to distribute bath salts, of N-ethylpentylone. The charge carried with it a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, since Hawkins had a previous felony drug offense. Indeed, his past criminal history is so extensive that Wood remarked that as a man in his 30s, “so far, criminal conduct is the only career” he’s had.
Also sentenced Monday was Tyler Wallace, who pleaded guilty to his role in a scheme among Marines at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay to steal explosives, ammunition and other materials and bury them on the property of a co-conspirator’s St. Marys residence.
Defense attorney Wrix McIlvaine attempted to lay out in a sentencing memorandum how Wallace came to be in the position he’s in.
“After boot camp, (Wallace) was assigned to the armory at Kings Bay,” McIlvaine wrote. “Normally, a Marine Corps armory will have a captain and a staff sergeant. Upon arrival at Kings Bay, Wallace was under the command of a corporal. The corporal explained to Wallace that everything at the armory was in disarray, that the paperwork had been incorrect since the ‘80s and that if they were fully audited by (the Defense Department) that they would probably both end up in prison.
“The corporal drank too much and placed fast and loose with the law and everything else. Wallace started following (his) lead in adopting bad habits.”
Wallace was no longer in the Marines at the time of the theft, but he was still hanging out with his friends from the base, and when contacted helped bury the stolen goods. Wallace’s wife testified that Wallace significantly cut back his drinking in the following years and become more responsible generally.
The sentencing guidelines suggested four-10 months in prison. Both the prosecution and defense said a sentence without prison time would be appropriate here, but Wood said a short term was necessary, and sentenced Wallace to two months in prison and one year supervised release. He’s also required to pay his share of $22,825.37 restitution to the Navy.
In other federal matters, a federal grand jury issued an indictment of Lionel Valenzuela for the Oct. 30 robbery of Ameris Bank on Cypress Mill Road. According to police statements at the time, Valenzuela told a teller he had a gun and demanded cash. Police caught Valenzuela on foot shortly afterward, along with the cash, but did not find a weapon.