East Hawaii News

Tucker Pleads Guilty to Making Child Pornography

February 13, 2013, 1:37 PM HST
* Updated February 14, 10:26 AM
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John Ridgely Tucker, the Pahoa man accused in October of sexually molesting two children in the bed-and-breakfast owned by his family, has entered into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

According to a document filed last month in US District Court in Honolulu, Tucker pleaded guilty Jan. 17 before Judge Susan Oki Mollway to one count of producing child pornography. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped five other identical charges.

Tucker, 57, had pleaded not guilty to six counts of sexual exploitation of children on Oct. 26. Prior to the plea agreement he was scheduled for a Feb. 12 trial date.

As a result of his plea, Tucker faces a minimum term of at least 15 years in federal prison, with a maximum sentence of up to 30 years.

There is no parole in the federal prison system except for those convicted of offenses committed prior to 1987 or in Washington DC, or for some military or foreign offenders.

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According to the plea document, the heightened sentence is based on the nature of the offense, which included the involvement of minors, a sexual act and distribution of the image.

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He could have faced up to 180 years in prison if found guilty on all six counts.

When he is sentenced at 3 p.m. on May 9 in Honolulu Tucker also faces a fine of up to $250,000 plus supervised release following his release “of not less than five years and up to life,” the plea agreement said.

Tucker, a former salesman for Willocks Construction Corp., must also pay restitution to “persons victimized by defendant’s offense,” it said. The amount and recipients will be determined by the court.

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In pleading guilty, Tucker admitted that in 2008 he took a picture of himself “engaged in sexual explicit contact” with two minors under the age of 12 at his residence.

Tucker was arrested Oct. 10 following the execution of a search warrant at his family’s Leilani Estates bed-and-breakfast.

The arrest came after the FBI publicly circulated pictures of Tucker with portions of the photo blacked out. Agents said “within hours” they received tips from the public as to Tucker’s identity.

The agency said the photos were originally posted to the internet in 2010 and had been discovered during an unrelated investigation by the FBI in Arizona.

Agents had traced the photos to the Big Island after identifying an image of a 2008 Hawaii County telephone book in the background of one of the photos.

Tucker’s attorney, Brian De Lima, did not respond to a request for comment.

Petra Wiesenbauer, Tucker’s wife, filed for divorce on Dec. 14. The divorce will not be contested, according to an affidavit filed by De Lima on Tucker’s behalf.

***Updated at 5:15 p.m.***

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