CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — Peter Farnum, 42, a former sergeant and seven-year member of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department, was sentenced to 87 months in prison and 20 years of supervised release Monday for possessing a large number of images of child pornography.
The sentence, which was handed down in Syracuse, follows Farnum’s conviction last summer after a two-week jury trial in federal court in Albany. Farnum was a resident of Clifton Park.
The evidence at trial established that Farnum possessed more than 1,000 image and video files of child pornography on his family computer. These images included, among many others, files that Farnum imported to the computer while he conducted online research related to his position with the sheriff’s office and while his wife was in the hospital.
At the time of his arrest, Farnum and his wife were separated and going through a bitter divorce that included the custody of their three young children.
According to media reports from 2017, Farnum was accused of downloading and storing thousands of files containing child pornography between October 2015 and April 2016. The 18-page criminal complaint said investigators found more than 14,000 files of child pornography on the computer.
Trial testimony revealed Farnum’s wife was concerned after finding adult pornography on the computer and upon opening the files saw the images begin to disappear.
The reports say after confronting Farnum about the images his wife became concerned about him being around their children and took the computer to a repair shop in Albany. After shop technicians found adult pornography on the computer his wife, then contacted computer experts in Montana, where employees said they found thousands of files of child pornography and contacted the FBI.
According to police statements made at the time of his arrest, the images were of children as young as seven or eight years old.
In a statement made upon Farnum’s arrest, Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said the family was uppermost in the minds of the department and its officers.
“Although this incident reflects negatively on the members of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office and all law enforcement officers, it is the family of Sgt. Farnum to whom we offer our condolences as they deal with the immediate and long term fallout of his alleged actions,” Zurlo said at the time.
The case was investigated by the FBI and its Child Exploitation Task Force with assistance from the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne A. Myers. The prosecution of the case was part of Project Safe Childhood launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice.