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Befriended by a co-worker who boasted about her trips to Toronto’s sex clubs, Steven Metz soon found himself drawn to the underground lifestyle.

Over time, the Homeland Security supervisor also found himself attracted to underage girls and, again at the urging of his co-worker, started watching child pornography.

“I was involved in behavior that brought me to a moral cliff, which I jumped off,” Metz said in a recent letter to the court.

Metz, a terrorism smuggling expert, was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison on his guilty plea to possessing child pornography.

It was, by any standard, a fall from grace for Metz.

A 16-year veteran of the Bureau of Customs & Border Protection, he was an officer who had gained the respect of his colleagues and climbed the leadership ladder within Homeland Security.

By the time of his arrest, he was a nationally recognized expert on terrorism-related smuggling and detecting hidden terrorist devices at border crossings. Metz was a supervisor who worked out of offices at the Peace Bridge, where Customs & Border Protection officers have arrested numerous child pornography suspects.

“He seemed like a person who had everything,” defense lawyer Jeremy A. Schwartz said Wednesday.

All of it came crashing down on Oct. 25, 2012, when investigators from the Bureau of Immigration & Customs Enforcement, a federal law enforcement agency allied with Customs and Border Protection, raided Metz’s home in Hamburg.

A day later, Metz, in what prosecutors describe as a suicide attempt, drove his car past a closed railroad safety barrier in Blasdell and onto some railroad tracks.

An oncoming freight train struck the rear of Metz’s car, which was demolished, and Metz suffered injuries but survived.

“He has paid an enormous toll,” Schwartz said of the emotional and physical damage his client has endured.

Metz, 42, eventually pleaded guilty to having more than 600 child porn images and videos on his computer and sharing them with other individuals through emails.

In a letter to the court this month, he expressed remorse at the pain and humiliation he has caused his family and attempted to offer an explanation for what happened to him.

He referred to his female co-worker in Toronto, the person who encouraged his interest in child porn, and a barber who he claims sexually abused him as a boy.

“I have pledged my sorrow to my victims, some of which are my family,” Metz told Chief U.S. District William M. Skretny.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie P. Grisanti, the federal prosecutor in the case, countered by suggesting Metz had brought disgrace on his former colleagues at Homeland Security.

“If there’s anyone who should have known about the consequences, it was Mr. Metz,” she said. “He should have known better.”

email: pfairbanks@buffnews.com