Tabernash man pleads guilty to child porn charge | SkyHiNews.com

Tabernash man pleads guilty to child porn charge

Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

Just short of going to a jury trial, a local man entered a guilty plea Thursday on a felony charge of child pornography.

Lee Frankel, 47, of Tabernash, entered the plea before Judge Mary Hoak of the 14th Judicial District Court in Hot Sulphur Springs. He was scheduled to go to trial on Monday, June 16, facing two charges.

Frankel entered his guilty plea on a charge of “sexual exploitation of a child ” possession of 20 or more items,” which is a Class 4 felony. Judge Hoak set Sept. 4 as the date for his sentencing.

A second felony charge of “sexual exploitation of a child ” sell or publish” was dismissed by Judge Hoak during Thursday’s court hearing.

Frankel’s guilty plea on the child pornography charge was the result of a plea agreement worked out between his attorney and the District Attorney’s Office in Hot Sulphur Springs led by Chief Deputy DA Elizabeth Oldham.

Last February, Frankel had entered a “not guilty” plea in the district court on the two charges of trafficking in child pornography.

What led to the charges against Frankel was information provided to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office by the FBI last summer. The FBI identified him through his AOL Internet addresses as the sender and the receiver of child pornography from two other suspects involved in child pornography cases.

On Sept. 5, 2007, Grand County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Frankel at his Tabernash residence. Seized under a search warrant were two computers and 230 computer-printed images described by Sheriff’s investigators as “explicit sexual content” involving young girls.

The Tabernash man was incarcerated in the Grand County Jail at Hot Sulphur Springs and remained behind bars for 117 days before he bonded out Jan. 2. He posted a $6,000 bond to be released.

During his incarceration, additional charges were brought against Frankel in late September. Those charges were prompted by the discovery of a young girl’s panties that were found by Sheriff’s investigators among his belongings during the Sept. 5 search of his Tabernash residence.

A subsequent investigation by the Sheriff’s Office led to charges of stalking, burglary and theft also being brought. The Sheriff’s investigation accused Frankel of stalking an ex-girlfriend for several months before he allegedly broke into her house to steal the underwear belonging to her young daughter.

A plea agreement on those charges was worked out last fall between Frankel’s public defender and the district attorney. As a result of that plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to a charge of second degree trespassing on Dec. 18 before Judge Ben McClelland in the Grand County Court.

Also during that Dec. 18 arraignment, Judge McClelland found sufficient grounds on the two child pornography charges to order the defendant’s case to be bound over to the district court for further action.

On Jan. 10, Frankel made his first appearance before Judge Hoak, who sentenced him on the second-degree trespassing charge. He was placed on one year of supervised probation, ordered to perform 48 hours of public service and ordered to pay $1,032 in fines and court costs. He was not given any additional jail time because he had already served 117 days in the county jail.


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