Jared Fogle agrees to plead guilty to child porn charges

Only one-third of Jared Foundation contributions was spent on programs

Jared Fogle's wife seeking divorce following child pornography plea deal

Jared Fogle (WTHR file photo)
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Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle appeared in federal court in downtown Indianapolis Wednesday and agreed to plead guilty to child pornography charges.

Prosecutors allege that Fogle knew the pornography had been secretly produced by the former director of his charitable foundation, which sought to raise awareness about childhood obesity and arranged for Fogle to visit schools and urge children to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits.

Authorities said Fogle offered to pay adult prostitutes a finder's fee if they could connect him with minors for sex acts, including some as young as 14 or 15 years old.

Assistant US attorney Steve Debrota said the $1.4 million payout to victims is the largest restitution order he's seen. Debrota also says that Fogle was responsible for the victimization because he failed to report the first victim when he first learned of the activity.

"A lot of them didn't know who he was. Some of them did. They didn't know they were victims," Debrota said.

Fogle left the courthouse with his attorneys around 12:30 pm. Prosecutors and Indiana State Police spoke to the media, saying the investigation began with a tip from a private citizen to the Indiana State Police.

"First, lets call this what it is," said US Attorney Josh Minkler. "This is about using wealth, status and secrecy to illegally exploit children."

He said the case was handled like any other child exploitation case.

"Fame and fortune will not protect you from attacking those most vulnerable in our communities," said Doug Carter with the Indiana State Police said.

Allegations

Federal prosecutors released documents Wednesday accusing Fogle of engaging in sex acts with minors and receiving child pornography.
    
The documents released by the U.S. attorney's office in Indianapolis say 37-year-old Fogle faces one count of travel to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and one count of distribution and receipt of child pornography.

Among the allegations in the plea deal document are that Fogle traveled to New York City to pay for sex acts with minors while he stayed in upscale hotels. He asked one victim for access to a minor as young as 14 years old. Fogle allegedly indicated in a text about the kind of minor he sought that "the younger the girl, the better."

The plea agreement alleges that around November 2012, Fogle paid to have sex with a 17-year-old at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. That victim told investigators that she and Fogle engaged in sex acts on 3 separate occasions, for money.

The document states that investigators have recordings from witnesses in Florida, Georgia and Washington State showing that Fogle discussed with them interest in sex acts with minors. The investigation also uncovered messages and documents indicating that Fogle discussed "finder's fees" with prostitutes across the country.

The plea agreement document also alleges that Fogle received child pornography from the then-executive director of the Jared Foundation, Russell Taylor. None of the minor victims were aware they were being filmed by hidden cameras inside Taylor's home.

The investigation revealed some of the child pornography victims were as young as 6 years. 

Fogle received the child porn from Taylor on the computer, in text messages and on a thumb drive, the document alleges.

Minkler said at the news conference that investigators reviewed thousands of pieces of data including: 159,634 text messages; 27,140 emails; 47,623 images; and 3,394 videos.

A federal judge must still approve any plea agreement and will issue the sentence. While prosecutors are asking for 151 months in prison and the defense is asking for 60 months, the judge could ignore both requests and sentence Fogle to more time.

Legal expert weighs in

13 Investigates had a legal expert review the charges and plea agreement. Jack Crawford has worked as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney and has not been part of the Fogle case. He says the terms of the agreement are in line with other similar cases and what he would expect.

"Five to 12 years in a federal prison for a sex offense is not a slap on the wrist," Crawford said. "No one gets 50 years for these kinds of cases."  

Crawford told 13 Investigates senior reporter Bob Segall he does not think it appears that Fogle received any special treatment because of his notoriety.

"I think in a way, his celebrity status may have hurt him a little bit, because authorities threw everything but the kitchen sink into this case," said Crawford.

Pointing to the tens of thousands of emails, texts and images prosecutors reviewed, Crawford added, "The weight of the investigation that was applied to Jared is different."

The U.S. Attorney's office made a point of saying it does not matter who you are – famous or not – anyone who exploits children will be caught and face a harsh penalty.

Attorney statement

Jeremy Margolis, Fogle's criminal defense attorney, spoke to the media after the hearing.

"Jared Fogle is going to plead guilty to the charges that were filed earlier today here in the Southern District of Indiana. In so doing, he will fully acknowledge responsibility for his wrongdoing and his acts and his conduct. He has already volunteered to make restitution to those individuals who have been impacted by his behavior. He knows that restitution can't undo the damage that he's done, but he will do all in his power to make it right," said Margolis.

Margolis also said Fogle has a medical problem. "He has already sought an evaluation by a world-class psychiatrist experienced in these matters and he will seek appropriate treatment."

Margolis said his client expects to go to prison "and he will do his time. He expects to get well. He expects to continue to make amends to those people whose lives he has affected - both family and non-family members."

Family statements

Fogle family:

“Our family is shocked and profoundly disappointed in Jared's abhorrent criminal behavior and we are very concerned for the well being of those affected by his conduct. At the same time, we are gratified that Jared is accepting responsibility for what he has done by agreeing to plea guilty to the charges filed today and by volunteering to make restitution to the victims. We are also gratified that he is seeking medical treatment. We hope that he will become healthy again and are confident that after he serves his sentence, he will continue to make amends. We look forward to the day that he rejoins our family and society. 
 
“We will not be granting any media interviews. Our plan is to comfort each other and heal and we ask that the media respect our family's privacy during this very difficult time.”


Fogle's wife issued a statement through her attorneys Wednesday morning saying she would seek a divorce:

"Obviously, I am extremely shocked and disappointed by the recent developments involving Jared. I am in the process of seeking a dissolution of the marriage. My focus is exclusively on the well-being of my children. Neither I nor my family will have any further comment on the matter. I appreciate respect for my family’s privacy during this difficult time."

Subway statement (Aug. 19, 2015):

"Jared Fogle’s actions are inexcusable and do not represent our brand’s values. We had already ended our relationship with Jared."

Read the allegations here.

Fogle guilty plea details.

According to the plea agreement, Fogle will have to register as a sex offender and undergo treatment for sex disorders. See his conditions of release here.

He could face 5-12 years in prison.

Fogle will also pay 14 identified victims $100,000 each as part of the plea agreement.

Fogle was seen walking into the federal courthouse with his attorney, Ron Elberger, Wednesday morning.

The former Subway spokesperson’s executive director of his foundation, Russell Taylor, is being held in federal prison awaiting trial on child pornography charges. Sources tell Eyewitness News Taylor is in a prison in Kentucky.

Subway tweeted Tuesday evening, "We no longer have a relationship with Jared and have no further comment."

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