Should an Orange County father caught possessing child pornography receive a lighter punishment because he is handicapped?
If you're Louis George Thibault Jr., a former machine tools and equipment salesman, the answer is an unqualified yes.
After being indicted by a federal grand jury in August 2011 for collecting kiddie porn from LimeWire file-sharing services off the Intenet, Thibault eventually admitted guilt last year and sought a punishment of one day of incarceration, plus six months of home detention because he is severely hampered by Multiple Sclerosis.
But Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Keenan considered Thibault's punishment request "unreasonably low" and "utterly fails to account for the seriousness of the offense," especially considering the U.S. Probation Office recommended a sentence of 97 months in prison and lifetime supervision.
Keenan concluded that a 24-month term, plus probation for seven years upon Thibault's return to society would be appropriate punishment.
This month -- after Thibault called his actions "stupid," apologized for his "horrible mistake" and asked for "mercy . . . because I'm not a bad or evil person" -- U.S. District Court Judge Josephine Staton Tucker sided with the prosecutor, according to court records inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana.
Tucker gave Thibault, who was born in 1967 and is married with a child, until noon on April 19 to surrender to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.