Jail term restored in sex sting case

Judge renews order voided after high court decision

August 06, 2004|By Stephanie Hanes | Stephanie Hanes,SUN STAFF

A federal judge reinstated yesterday a 72-month prison sentence for George Paul Chambers, the former Navy physicist convicted of using the Internet to try to seduce a teenage girl.

U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis had imposed the same sentence in June, but voided that prison term shortly after a U.S. Supreme Court decision that appeared to undermine federal sentencing guidelines. The guidelines are a key part of how federal judges determine sentences.

But this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which includes Maryland, issued an opinion that told judges to continue using the guidelines.

As a result of the court rulings, Chambers, 46, was back in court, where Garbis issued the same sentence that he had two months ago.

It was a calm, technical proceeding in a case that has produced its share of drama.

Chambers, of LaPlata in Charles County, was arrested in 2002 at The Mall in Columbia, where prosecutors say he intended to meet the person he knew by the screen name "Emmygurl," who he thought was a teen cheerleader.

His defense was a first for Maryland's federal courts. He said he was only role-playing when he exchanged sexually graphic e-mails and photographs with the FBI agent who had assumed the online identity of that 13-year-old.

His first trial ended in a deadlocked jury and mistrial. But in March, a second jury convicted him on the Internet charges, as well as for possessing child pornography.

The members of that jury showed up for Chambers' sentencing - a highly unusual turnout. They sat in the back of the courtroom and listened as lawyers re-argued parts of the case and as some members of Chambers' family asked for leniency. They watched as Chambers' 89-year-old uncle stood, turned around and screamed at them for their guilty finding.

Yesterday, only the lawyers and the judge spoke. Garbis gave Chambers until Sept. 3 to report to prison.

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