A suspended Homeland Security supervisor entered a guilty plea to possession of child pornography in a plea agreement Monday, admitting in U.S. District Court in Buffalo that he viewed and shared electronic images and videos, some of them showing children in “sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence.”
Steven Metz, 41, pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny, who informed the Customs & Border Protection supervisor he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Metz possessed more than 600 images and videos of child pornography on his computer and shared them with other individuals through emails, according to U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr.
“Some of the files contained sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence, and some of the children shown in the images and videos were prepubescent and under the age of 12,” Hochul said.
He credited another division of the Department of Homeland Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement – with discovering the cache of illegal material on the Hamburg resident’s home computer, which was seized in October 2012.
A father of two children, Metz is suspended without pay from his job and was allowed to remain free on pretrial supervision until his Nov. 12 sentencing, to allow him to complete several forms of psychological counseling.
During questioning by the judge, Metz said he is being treated for anxiety and depression and takes prescribed medicines for those conditions.
Skretny said Monday he has not yet determined how much prison time Metz will be ordered to serve, explaining that he has to review a presentencing report that will assist him in calculating the period of incarceration and the amount of the fine.
“I don’t know what the final numbers are at this point,” he said.
Under the plea deal, Metz’s lawyers, Julie Atti Rogers and Jeremy D. Schwartz, may ask the judge to consider a shorter sentence that departs from federal guidelines.
Assessments from Metz’s counselors will be incorporated into the pre-sentencing report and are expected to provide insight into how Metz got involved in child pornography, his lawyers said.
Later, Schwartz said: “We feel the counseling reports will weigh heavily in the presentencing report. There are mitigating circumstances.”
Atti Rogers said Metz, who has worked for the federal government for 18 years, is deeply upset by his behavior.
“It is obvious that he’s extremely remorseful for his actions and the shame it has brought upon his family,” Atti Rogers said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie P. Grisanti is the prosecutor in the case.