Florida lawyer sentenced to probation after pleading to 34 counts of child pornography charges
Tampa, Florida: 52-year-old attorney Chris Ragano "refused to confess" to the wrongness of his actions despite pleading to 34 charges related to child pornography as a part of an Alford plea.
An Alford plea is also known as a "best-interest plea" which acknowledges that there is likely enough evidence for a conviction should the case proceed to trial, but asserts the individuals innocence.
33 of the charges against him were for possession of child pornography for which he was sentenced to 8 years, suspended, with the remaining charge being for out-of-state transmission of child phonography for which he was sentenced to five years, suspended. The sentences are to run concurrently.
In addition, he was sentenced to six months in prison but was given credit for time served.
Following the resolution of his criminal case, Ragano still had to face the Florida Bar disciplinary case.
In recommending his disbarment for a period of five years, Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge George Mark Jirotka noted dishonest or selfish motives, a pattern of misconduct, multiple offenses, and his refusal to acknowledge the wrong nature of his conduct among the list of aggravating factors for his ruling.
According to Ragano's statements made to Dr. Wendy Coughlin, Ph.D., he had allegedly gone onto the dark web out of "professional curiosity" related to an issue faced by a previous client. Despite no longer representing the client, he proceeded anyway, allegedly after purchasing a computer solely for the purpose of searching the dark web.
Despite investigators finding that the images he had accessed showed children under the age of 10, Ragano is said to have asserted that the images he had downloaded were merely "fake child porn."
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