Ex-senator sentenced to 15 years for child sex trafficking

FILE - This March 16, 2017, file photo, provided by the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office in Norman, Okla., shows Ralph Shortey. The former Republican state senator is scheduled to be sentenced Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, on a child sex trafficking charge. (Cleveland County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A former Republican state senator in Oklahoma was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison Monday on a child sex trafficking charge.

U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti handed down the sentence to Ralph Shortey, 36, who faced sentences of between 10 years and life in prison. DeGiusti also ordered Shortey to serve 10 years of supervised probation once he is released from prison and said he will impose a fine on the former two-term lawmaker at a later date. The fine could be up to $250,000.

Shortey pleaded guilty in November in exchange for prosecutors dropping three child pornography charges against him. He said at the time that the plea deal was in the best interest of him and his family.

Shortey was arrested in March 2017 after police found him in a suburban Oklahoma City motel room with a then-17-year-old boy. Police were acting on a tip from the teen’s father when they went to the motel and said they smelled marijuana coming from the room. Police accused the married father of four of hiring the teen for sex.

Shortey resigned shortly after the arrest. His wife obtained a divorce earlier this year.

A police report indicated a search of the teen’s tablet computer uncovered a series of sexually explicit exchanges in which Shortey referred to the teen as “baby boy” and offered him cash in exchange for “sexual stuff.”

The FBI also found that Shortey had previously used fake names to send and receive child pornography and to go on Craigslist to seek casual encounters with males, the “younger the better.”

Shortey was twice elected in a district covering south Oklahoma City and parts of two suburbs.

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