A former New York City police officer and twice-convicted sex offender was sentenced Tuesday to 21 years in federal prison for transporting a 15-year-old boy from the Bronx to a Fort Lee motel room to engage in illicit sex.
U.S. District Judge Esther Salas imposed the sentence on Jayme Shannon, 53, of East Brunswick, lamenting that he wasted an opportunity to get professional help after his first conviction on similar federal charges in 2003, and now must pay a heavy price.
“The reality is he could have done something to avoid this horrible situation,” the judge said before imposing the punishment in Newark federal court.
Dressed in a yellow jail-issued jumpsuit and shackled at the wrists and ankles, Shannon stood and apologized to his family and the victim, none of whom were in the courtroom.
“I’m sorry I put you through this horrendous ordeal,” he said, referring to the victim. “I hope you can forgive me for what I’ve done.”
He thanked his former wife, who divorced him last year, for her continued love and support and pleaded for leniency from the judge.
Shannon met the 15-year-old victim in an Internet chat room in September 2013 and communicated with him by email and text message over a period of weeks. On Oct. 14, Shannon rented a room at the Skyview Motel in Fort Lee then picked up the boy at his home in the Bronx and drove him to the motel, where authorities said, they engaged in sexual activity.
A Fort Lee police officer spotted Shannon entering the room with the boy, and when officers entered, they found the boy naked and hiding in a bathroom, authorities said.
Shannon, a limousine driver at the time, was arrested and charged with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a minor. Those state charges were dismissed after the U.S. Attorney’s Office took over the prosecution and Shannon agreed to accept a plea deal.
He pleaded guilty last May before Salas to two counts: interstate transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in prohibited sexual activity – an offense that carries a minimum term of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison – and being a registered sexual offender while committing that crime, which exposed him to a mandatory consecutive 10-year term.
Defense attorney Benjamin Morton urged the judge to show mercy noting that while a 15 year old cannot legally give consent to an adult sex partner, there was no force or violence involved.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Hafetz argued the recommended range of 21 to 24 years in the sentencing guidelines was “entirely appropriate” given Shannon’s criminal history.
In the earlier case, Hafetz said, Shannon engaged in detailed discussions of what he planned to do with a boy he thought was 14 years old, but in fact was an undercover agent. Shannon should have known better after that conviction than to get involved with underage teens again, he said, adding that a strong message must be sent that such conduct won’t be tolerated.
In the first case, Shannon was sentenced by a federal judge in Brooklyn in 2003 to 33 months in prison on a charge of traveling across state lines for the purpose of engaging in a sexual act with a minor
Before that, Shannon had served as a police officer in New York City from 1985 to 1996, receiving several commendations before he was terminated, the prosecutor said.
Ron Bar-Nadav, a Hackensack lawyer who also represents Shannon, said his client was let go from the force for writing bad checks in anticipation of overtime pay that he didn’t receive.
In her comments, Salas reflected on the dangers the internet poses to children and said that while Shannon may not have raped his victim in the typical sense he nonetheless preyed upon and took advantage of him.
The fact that it wasn’t his first time made it all the more troublesome, she said. He had an opportunity to try to get help with his “urges when it comes to children,” and instead allowed years to go buy and possibly victimized others, the judge said.
“He has only himself to blame and no one else,” she said.
Shannon has been held in solitary confinement for over a year at the Essex County jail since inmates, using smuggled cell phones and Ipads, discovered that he was a former police officer and sex offender and threatened his life, the judge and defense lawyers said.