The former mayor of College Park, Maryland, has been sentenced for possession and distribution of child pornography. Patrick Wojahn, who had been mentored by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg early in his political career, was arrested earlier this year after law enforcement found evidence that he was involved in sharing child porn.
The sentencing came after Wojahn pleaded guilty to a slew of charges related to the illicit activity.
Former College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison for possession and distribution of child pornography.
Wojahn, 48, pleaded guilty in August to 140 child pornography charges, according to online court records.
His indictment charged him with possession, possession with intent to distribute and distribution of material that exploits children — a mixture of misdemeanors and felonies with maximum penalties ranging from five to 10 years’ incarceration.
Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Karen H. Mason on Monday sentenced him to 150 years in prison but suspended all but 30 years of it, according to the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office and online court records. That means that if Wojahn violates the conditions of his eventual release, a judge could send him back to prison for up to 120 years.
Investigators uncovered over 1,500 pictures and videos on his devices. About 200 of these were shared on social media. The investigation began when law enforcement received a tip about suspected sharing of child porn in the community.
Patrick Wojahn, a mentee of Pete Buttigieg who was first elected mayor in 2015, resigned his position after he was taken into custody this morning by the Prince George’s County Police Department.
According to local news reports, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children first notified police on February 17 of a social media account operating within the county that was distributing child pornography. Investigators determined that Democrat Wojahn owned the account in question and that the disturbing images and videos had been uploaded in January of 2023.
They then took possession of cell phones, tablets, and storage devices after serving a search warrant on Wojahn’s home.
Prince George’s County Police Chief Malik Aziz said at the time that the department sends “a clear message to anyone involved in this type of material that units like this are looking, they’re working every day to make sure that we have a safe county and a safe state.”
The center identified 52 of the children in the videos on Wojahn’s devices.
Maryland law makes him eligible for parole after serving a quarter of his sentence, which would be approximately seven-and-a-half years.
State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy noted that the sentence “instructs us that child pornography is not simply about images, it’s about the pain behind the images, the tragedies that have occurred in these young people’s lives, that should never have happened to them.”
Also noteworthy about this case is that a number of people submitted character letters or even spoke up in support of the former mayor during the hearing.
Forty character letters were submitted and around 15 people spoke in support of the former mayor during the hearing. Some criticized the length of the prison sentence as draconian and vengeful and said the case had been politicized.
Myers responded to those arguments.
“The reason why he pled to 140 counts was because our office is not going to take a position as to which child deserves to have their rape, that was memorialized on video, and forever lives on the internet, pled to,” Myers said.
This case brings to light the pervasive and insidious nature of child sexual abuse material. It underscores how important it is that law enforcement remains diligent in rooting out those disseminating this material.