Former state Senator Michael J. Folmer pled guilty Thursday morning on charges related to the possession of child pornography.

Folmer, a Lebanon County Republican elected to four terms in the Pennsylvania State Senate and an architect of the state’s medical marijuana law, pled guilty on Feb. 27 to the charges which stemmed from his arrest last Sept. 17 for possession of child pornography.

He faces up to 10 years in state prison.

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His sentencing date will be set once a pre-sentence report and a sexual predator evaluation are completed. These steps are expected to take at least 90 days.

Under a plea agreement with State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Folmer pled guilty to three charges of possession of child pornography and one charge of criminal use of a communication facility, his cellphone.

The child pornography charges each carry a possible 10 year maximum jail sentence. The criminal use of a communication facility charge has a maximum possible sentence of seven years.

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However, based on Folmer’s cooperation and acceptance of responsibility, the Attorney General has agreed to recommend that all four charges be sentenced concurrently—served at the same time—meaning Folmer’s maximum possible jail sentence will be 10 years. The sentencing judge will be free to impose a lower maximum if he sees fit.

Because Folmer has no criminal record, the state’s sentencing guidelines recommend a minimum sentence between 12 and 24 months, although the sentencing judge could add or subtract up to 12 months if he finds aggravated or mitigating circumstances surrounding Folmer’s crimes.

In the end, if there are no aggravating or mitigating circumstances, the sentencing judge will have the latitude to impose a sentence as low as 1 to 2 years, as high as 2 to 10 years, or anywhere in between.

The plea agreement announced in court, along with the Attorney General’s recognition of Folmer’s cooperation with the investigation, suggest that the Commonwealth will not argue that aggravated circumstances were present.

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Folmer will also be required to undergo a sexual offender evaluation under Megan’s Law, and could be required to register for many years after his release from prison.

Folmer, 64, was charged in September. All of the charges result from pornographic pictures found on Folmer’s phone. Police obtained a search warrant for the phone after receiving a tip from the social networking website Tumblr that a user had uploaded pictures of young children having indecent contact.

The charges led to his resignation from the state senate and the January election of Lebanon County District Attorney David J. Arnold Jr. to complete his unexpired term of office.

Lancaster County Senior Judge Joseph Madenspacher, who was appointed to handle the case after all Lebanon County judges disqualified themselves, presided at the guilty plea proceedings.

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Standing before the judge at the courtroom podium, Folmer handed up a signed guilty plea form containing a series of questions designed to ensure that he understood the charges against him, the maximum penalties he faced, his right to a jury trial at which he would be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the details of his plea agreement.

He repeatedly answered “yes” when Madenspacher asked him whether he understood the questions, gave truthful answers, was pleading guilty because he actually did the acts alleged, and had signed the form voluntarily.

The A.G. handled Folmer’s prosecution after then District Attorney Arnold disqualified his office.

Folmer remains free on $25,000 bail until sentencing.

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NOTE: Due to a transcription error in the state’s online docket, LebTown had earlier incorrectly reported that three additional child pornography and one additional criminal use were added after the case was filed. We have updated our previous article while we continue to investigate the docket error.

This article was updated to clarify the range of possible sentences Folmer could receive.

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