Despite a tearful apology, a League City woman Wednesday was sentenced to 112 months, more than nine years, in federal prison for receipt of child pornography.
“I understand you have an illness and I appreciate that you are working on it, but, respectfully, what you did is horrific,” U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. said. “I don’t believe this is an isolated incident. And you did it to the lives of people placed in your hand to protect. If you will do that to someone you love, I shudder to think of what you would do to someone you didn’t know.”
Tracey Lynn Bautista, 46, pleaded guilty in January to receipt of child pornography, saying she had knowingly received pictures containing child pornography via text message. Between Sept. 26 and Oct. 7, 2015, she exchanged several text messages with a man that contained pornography.
Bautista received the messages from another person who had been arrested for the promotion of child pornography, officials said.
Officers also found that Bautista had discussed sending nude pictures of a 16-year-old girl for him and later sent a topless photo of a minor, officials said.
Bautista faced a sentence of up to 135 months, more than 11 years, in federal prison for the offense.
Thomas Jennings Roberts, the attorney representing Bautista, asked the judge to consider a lighter sentencing range because she was not a habitual offender and because she had been receiving treatment for the incidents.
“Your honor, we would ask that you take into consideration who she was at the time and who she is now,” Roberts said. “Don’t just punish her for punishment’s sake.”
To show that the incident was not isolated, the U.S. attorney’s office called DeWayne Lewis, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, to testify.
Lewis told the court that investigators found a second conversation in 2016 with another screen name in which Bautista discussed setting up a prostitution ring and sending naked pictures of a minor, although no evidence was found that the pictures were actually sent.
Roberts told the court that the incidents occurred over a total of four weeks and that Bautista has dealt with mental illness, including recent diagnoses of bipolar disorder and depression, that contributed to her behavior.
Bautista then concluded the hearing by reading a letter, apologizing and taking full responsibility for the incidents.
“There are no excuses,” she said.
In addition to the prison sentence, Bautista will be under supervised release for 10 years after getting out of prison
“I haven’t given up on you, Ms. Bautista,” Hanks said. “But you have to get through this. I’ve read all the letters from your family and they all care about you and will be there to help you.”
Roberts requested to delay Bautista being taken into custody because of the Easter holiday coming up, to which Hanks agreed.