East Hawaii News

John Tucker Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison

July 2, 2013, 12:23 PM HST
* Updated July 2, 2:24 PM
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John Ridgely Tucker, the Pahoa man who earlier this year pleaded guilty in federal court to producing child pornography, was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison.

US Circuit Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway also ordered that Tucker register as a sex offender within three days of his release from federal prison and must also be on lifetime supervised release, the federal equivalent of probation.

There is no parole in the federal prison system.

Tucker had been charged with six counts of sexual exploitation of children, but entered into a plea agreement in February in which he pleaded guilty to one count and the other five counts were dropped.

The plea deal called for a sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison.

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

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

Tucker, 57, was arrested Oct. 10, 2012 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.

While Tucker was prosecuted for producing child pornography, child sexual abuse itself that takes place in a single state typically does not fall under federal law, and such matters are generally handled by state or local authorities.

Former Hawaii County Prosecutor Charlene Iboshi last year told Big Island Now that her office was considering whether to pursue additional charges against Tucker in state court.

Current Prosecutor Mitch Roth today said that he has not ruled that out.

“The case is still open in our office,” he said.

Roth noted that the statute of limitations for a class A felony, which this case could involve, does not expire until six years after the victim or victims turn 18 years old.

***Updated at 2:08 p.m.***

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