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Child porn producer gets term of 75 years ; Angry judge rejects claim of low IQ

A Salamanca man who put five young children in homemade child pornography videos was sentenced Monday to 75 years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny imposed the sentence on Shawn Snyder, 38, a former factory worker whose attorney says he is mentally retarded. Court officials said they believed it to be the longest sentence handed down in a child pornography case in Western New York.

Kimberly A. Schechter, a federal public defender, described her client as retarded and emotionally devastated by family problems. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango pointed out that Snyder was intelligent enough to operate a high-end video camera and to entice children to come to his home to appear in the videos.

A visibly angry Skretny called Snyder's actions "reprehensible" and "deeply troubling."

"You're a threat to all of society," the judge told Snyder.

The mothers of three of the victims also spoke during the emotional court proceeding, telling the judge that the best thing he can do for their children is to make sure Snyder never will be a free man again.

But Schechter argued that, in light of Snyder's mental state, the prison term is "too long."

"He's mentally retarded. He comes from a very dysfunctional family and has no prior record of this kind of conduct," Schechter said.

Federal prosecutors take a different view, saying four girls and a boy, ranging in age from 5 to 8 when they were victimized, will spend the rest of their lives dealing with the emotional damage Snyder inflicted.

"Today's punishment sends a strong message: If you engage in crime that could have life-long effects on our children, you will be prosecuted and in turn may receive a life sentence from the court," U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said.

The federal penal system does not provide for early release on parole. Federal prisoners can get some time off for good behavior, but most serve at least 90 percent of the prison time they originally are given.

Mango told the judge that Snyder's crimes were so severe that they dictated a 150-year prison term under sentencing guidelines, and the prosecutor said that term would be appropriate.

While persuading the children to appear in sex videos, Snyder threatened them, telling two of them that "you'll be taken away from your mother if anyone finds out," Mango said.

Despite his very low IQ, which Schechter said has been measured at 73, Snyder had the ability to manipulate children, as well as their parents, into allowing them to spend time at his home, Skretny said.

Snyder appeared on the verge of becoming physically ill during the sentencing. He told the judge he apologizes to the children and their parents, and said he hopes he can undergo treatment in prison for his addiction to child porn.

Snyder was charged after an investigation by Salamanca police and Buffalo FBI agents. He pleaded guilty in February to five counts of producing child porn.

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com

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