LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former Los Angeles official who once blamed a spinal tumor for his obsession with child pornography was sentenced to seven years in federal prison Monday to be followed by a lifetime of supervision.
Sixty-four-year-old Albert Abrams, white haired and balding, addressed a judge at a hearing attended by his family and friends.
"I'm truly sorry for these crimes that I committed," said Abrams. "I never intended to harm anyone and I apologize to those that I harmed."
He admitted he collected child pornography and distributed sexually explicit images. His lawyer said materials seized from his home covered almost 20 years during which he hid his activities from family members including his wife of 38 years.
"There's no question that he knew what he was doing was wrong," said defense attorney Marilyn Bednarski.
"Now he has lost everything," she said. "He's lost his reputation, his business. He's close to losing his home and now he is going to lose his freedom."
She urged a term of five years, the minimum under a plea agreement reached with the government. Prosecutors sought the maximum which would have been eight years but U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner settled on seven years.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lana Morton-Owens said, "This is a defendant who disseminated thousands of pictures."
She said there was no mitigation for the lies Abrams told including the claim of a tumor and split personality.
In addition to prison, Klausner ordered that Abrams remain on supervised probation for the rest of his life. He also imposed a $5,000 fine.
Under federal guidelines, he is likely to serve 80 percent of the sentence.
Abrams, who ultimately dropped the tumor defense and blamed a back problem, pleaded guilty in September to one count of distributing child pornography.
In court documents, prosecutors said Abrams told a television station that a tumor made his alternate personality download child pornography. He later claimed the growth was a cyst and now says an unidentified back problem was responsible.
"These are not the actions of someone who has taken responsibility for his criminal conduct, but instead, demonstrates that the defendant continues to deny that he and he alone is responsible for the pain he caused his victims," Morton-Owens wrote in court documents.
Bednarski said doctors did remove a growth from her client's spinal column and he was recovering from a serious back surgery when FBI agents searched his home in July 2011.
Abrams "has repeatedly expressed his remorse and apologized for his offense," said Bednarski.
"This is a man who has struggled with this problem for years. He tried to hide it. He didn't recognize the depth of his problem but now he does," she told the judge.
She expressed concern about her client's safety in prison given the nature of his crimes. Morton-Owens said she believed he would be housed with men serving time for similar offenses.
Abrams resigned last year as president of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners, a seven-member panel that oversees dozens of neighborhood councils. On the board's website, Abrams had said he worked on the broadcast media campaigns of President Jimmy Carter and Sens. Robert Kennedy and Al Gore. He also had a public relations business.
During the search of Abrams' home, authorities said they found thousands of pictures and videos of suspected child pornography on his computer and hard drives that he collected for more than a decade. Among them were images depicting bondage and sadomasochism.
Abrams also chatted explicitly with others about his child pornography collection and his desire to sexually assault children, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also said Abrams downloaded a 170-page document entitled "Hunter's Guide to Finding Child Lovers."
While Abrams wasn't charged with sexually assaulting children, prosecutors said he failed a polygraph examination conducted by the federal government when asked if he had sexual contact with minors. Court documents show that Abrams passed a polygraph test conducted by defense attorneys.
Bednarski said Abrams was "victimized" by a group of older boys when he was 4 years old and there is mention of sexual abuse when he was a child in court documents.
Prosecutors said they have nearly two dozen statements from victims in this case who were either in the pictures or videos collected by Abrams.
"Every day people are trading and sharing videos of me as a little girl being raped in the most sadistic ways," one victim wrote. "They don't know me, but they have seen every part of me. They are being entertained by my shame and pain."