A former Forsyth County sheriff’s deputy who unsuccessfully ran for sheriff was sentenced Thursday to eight years in federal prison for receiving child pornography.
Milton Scott Pruitt, 41, was convicted in a jury trial in U.S. District Court in Gainesville last year of accessing restricted child pornography files from a Forsyth County server while on duty as a patrol supervisor. The images were part of the agency’s investigative division files.
Pruitt also was convicted of receiving child pornography on his home computer.
U.S. District Judge William C. O’Kelley sentenced Pruitt to eight years, two months in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
A day earlier, O’Kelley denied Pruitt’s request for a new trial.
Ann Fitz, attorney for Pruitt, said she planned to file a notice of appeal soon.
“We look forward to taking it to a new court and new judges,” she said.
Pruitt had faced between five and 20 years in prison on the counts.
Thursday’s sentencing hearing lasted about an hour, during which the judge heard from Pruitt, as well as the ex-deputy’s wife and mother.
All three asked the court for leniency.
“I stand here today and beg the court’s mercy so this nightmare can come to the quickest end possible; so I can return home to be a husband to my wife and a father to my child,” Pruitt said.
After O’Kelley issued his sentence, Pruitt said goodbye to his wife and was led away from the courtroom.
“This defendant was once entrusted with protecting the public’s safety as a law enforcement officer but chose to violate that public trust by victimizing innocent children when he used the Internet to receive child pornography on his home computer,” Acting United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement today.
“To make matters worse, on at least one occasion, he also used a Forsyth County Sheriff’s computer to view child pornography while he was working. By prosecuting child pornography offenders such as Pruitt, this office is working to make our community safer for our children. This sentence underscores the substantial consequences for people who possess images of children being sexually exploited.”
After being fired from the sheriff’s office, Pruitt ran unsuccessfully for sheriff against incumbent Ted Paxton in the July 2008 Republican primary. Pruitt came in second in the three-man sheriff’s primary election with 956 votes, or 8 percent of the vote, despite being under indictment.