Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Attorney pleads guilty to possessing child pornography

LAKEPORT – A local attorney has pleaded guilty to a felony count of possessing child pornography in a case that first began nearly two years ago.


Robert Wayne Wiley, 75, of Lakeport entered the plea on Jan. 9 as part of an agreement reached with the Lake County District Attorney's Office, said his attorney, J. David Markham.


The plea deal resulted in a second, identical charge being dropped against Wiley, who had been scheduled to go on trial Jan. 27, Markham said.


Originally, Wiley was arrested on one count but later was charged with four felony counts of possessing child pornography, Markham explained. “Then the judge reduced it to two counts after the preliminary hearing.”


Deputy District Attorney Ed Borg said the second count was dismissed under a Harvey waiver, which allows the judge to consider the additional charges in making a sentencing decision.


Wiley, who worked for many years representing juveniles in criminal and civil matters in Lake County Superior Court, was arrested in September of 2007 as the result of an investigation that first started several months earlier.


In February of 2007, a bailiff in Department A, where juvenile matters are handled, found a thumb drive – a small media device for holding computer files – in the jury box, as Lake County News has reported.


When the bailiff plugged it into a computer to see if he could find out who it belonged to, he allegedly found pornographic images of children and turned it over to the sheriff's office, who in turn passed it on to District Attorney's Office Investigator Craig Woodworth.


The children in the materials were not children Wiley either knew or represented, according to court documents.


Woodworth – assigned to the Northern California Computer Crimes Task Force, headquartered in Napa – examined the computer evidence, including the thumb drive and computers that were taken from Wiley's home and office, said Borg.


It wasn't until the summer of 2008 that Wiley as formally charged. Borg said the computer examinations took a long time, and resources for that work are stretched thin.


At the same time, a special master was brought in to help review what materials were appropriate to be included in the investigation. Borg explained in a previous interview that a special master is another attorney who examines materials before they're submitted to law enforcement in order to protect “work product,” or materials that could compromise attorney-client confidentiality,


All local judges recused themselves from the case, which was heard by retired Fresno County Superior Court Judge Harry N. Papadakis.


Borg said the probation report, which will make suggestions about sentencing, hasn't been completed.


Wiley worked in the county's juvenile court system, which is run the Lake County Probation Department. Because of a close working relationship he had with the probation department, the agency has recused itself from preparing the report. Borg said Mendocino County's probation department is preparing the report instead.


Markham said Wiley is due to be sentenced on Feb. 27.


The penal code offers three sentencing options – 16 months, two years or three years in state prison, said Borg.


However, since Wiley has no previous criminal record, he'll probably receive probation. “It's not a case where it's likely at all that he'll go to prison,” said Borg.


Wiley will be required to register under Megan's Law, Borg added.


There also will be repercussions with the California State Bar.


We are required to notify the state bar when we have an attorney charged with a crime, and then we notify them when they've been convicted of a crime,” said District Attorney Jon Hopkins.


From there, the state bar will determine what kind of disciplinary action to take, Hopkins said.


At the time of his arrest, Wiley lost his contract with the Lake County Superior Court to represent juveniles in civil matters, and agreed to end his contract for dealing with juvenile criminal cases with Lake Legal Defense Services, which administers the county's public defender's contract.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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