BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A former Maryland state government official was sentenced to 8 years in federal prison for the distribution of child pornography on Tuesday.

Matthew Palmer, 44, of Severna Park, pleaded guilty to the distribution back in March. Palmer previously worked with the Maryland state government, serving as Deputy Legislative Officer for the Maryland Governor’s Office and Chief Operating Officer with the Maryland Department of Commerce.

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According to federal prosecutors, Palmer had at least 936 images and 368 videos of child pornography on his cell phone which included prepubescent minors, child pornography involving toddlers, and child pornography involving bondage and other sadistic acts.

“Individuals like Palmer who trade and possess this illegal material online are essentially facilitating an underground criminal marketplace that endangers children,” said Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner. “This case should serve as a reminder that law enforcement will bring to justice anyone who endangers children. No one is above the law.”

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In his signed plea agreement, Palmer admitted to downloading and distributing child pornography at least once between April 2019 and September 2019 in addition to possessing hundreds of images. He also admitted to accessing images from IP addresses associated with state government buildings.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher sentenced Palmer to eight years in federal prison, followed by 20 years of supervised release. Judge Gallagher also ordered that, upon his release, he must register as a sex offender where he lives, where he’s employed, and is a student pursuant to the sex offender registration and nonfiction act (SORNA).

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“HSI tirelessly investigates crimes involving the online sexual exploitation of minors with every resource at our disposal,” said Special Agent in Charge James Mancuso, for the Baltimore Field Office. “We will continue to ensure any individual that participates in any form of child pornography will be held to the same accountability for these deplorable acts.”

CBS Baltimore Staff