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Jan 20, 2014 1:58 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Jay Sears Sentencing Pushed Back To March

Jan 20, 2014 4:58 PM

Jay Sears, the prominent East End architect and philanthropist who admitted in federal court to manipulating photos of children so that it appeared they were engaging in sexual acts, is now set to be sentenced on March 21 in U.S. District Court, two months later than originally scheduled.

Mr. Sears, 74, pleaded guilty in September to possession of child pornography, a felony, and is facing a possible prison sentence of up to 10 years when he appears before Judge Denis R. Hurley in Central Islip. There is no minimum sentence, officials said.

He remains free on $250,000 bond and on house arrest at his East Quogue apartment.

Mr. Sears’s attorney, Richard Signorelli, requested that the sentencing be adjourned from Friday, January 17, to March to allow him time to review his client’s presentence report, which was recently disclosed, according to court documents.

State law requires investigators to provide the presentence report to the court in any case where a defendant is convicted of a felony. The report contains information about the crime and investigation, as well as details about the defendant’s background that might be pertinent to the sentence, including criminal and social history, previous employment, education, and the results of physical and mental examinations.

Presentence reports are confidential, and can also include a statement about the impact the crime had on the victims.

When reached Friday, Mr. Signorelli declined to comment until after the sentencing.

When reached via email, Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen Bode, the lead prosecutor on the case, said probation is a permissible sentence by law, but that he would be recommending jail time for Mr. Sears. He noted that the U.S. Attorney’s office usually recommends a sentence in line with federal guidelines, but declined to state what that recommendation would be until the guidelines, which are adjusted based on a number of factors, are established in this case.

Mr. Sears was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last January and indicted the following month by grand jury on six felony counts of possession of child pornography. Investigators said they have recovered hundreds of images from Mr. Sears’s old apartment in East Moriches, and in Dumpsters throughout Suffolk County, depicting identifiable minors in sexually explicit positions.

In court in September, Mr. Sears admitted to cutting out the faces of the girls, whom he photographed at East End events and fundraisers, and pasting them onto adult bodies in pornographic photos—a process known as “morphing.” Some of the modified collages made it appear as though he was engaging in sexual acts with the girls.

During the same court hearing, Mr. Sears, founder of the Quogue-based nonprofit Mission of Kindness, said he was “remorseful” and “sorry” for his actions.

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