Altamont man sentenced to prison in underage-sex sting

Mark S. Schmidt

Mark S. Schmidt

ALBANY COUNTY — Mark S. Schmidt of Altamont was sentenced in Albany County Court on Thursday to two-and-a-half years in prison followed by 10 years of post-release supervision; upon release, he will have to register as a sex offender. In October, Schmidt pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted rape and second-degree attempted criminal sex act, both felonies.

On Dec. 2, 2017, Schmidt, 69, and three other men were arrested in a sting operation led by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, along with the New York State Police Computer Crimes Unit, the Colonie Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

At the time of his arrest, Schmidt had no prior criminal record, and had been employed by the University at Albany as a photographer, police say.

As part of the sting, police used coded language in social media posts that would signal people who were scanning social media looking to have sex with children. The men were first given the location of a hotel and then, when they showed up, they called or texted someone and were given the room number.

“We give them multiple opportunities to not go through with it … to change their mind and walk away, but they don’t — they can’t,” Chief Deputy William M. Rice of the sheriff’s office told The Enterprise at the time of the arrests.  

Before sentencing, on Dec. 6, Lee Kindlon, Schmidt’s attorney, told Judge William A. Carter that Schmidt had pleaded guilty in October with the hope to show the court that, through probation and treatment, he could live out the rest of his days as a productive member of society. He asked the judge that Schmidt receive only 10 years of probation and have to register as a sex offender.

Kindlon then questioned the assessment of Schmidt performed by the Albany County Probation Department; he said that the department had strayed from its job as a neutral evaluator. Later in the sentencing, Kindlon told the court that he spoke with Schmidt after Schmidt had met with the probation department, and Kindlon “respectfully submitted” that the department did not include everything Schmidt had told them.

The probation department, according to Kindlon, had “cherry picked” what it wanted to include in its report to the court.

An evaluation of Schmidt, Kindlon said, performed by New Paradigm Psychological Services had been more thorough than the one performed by the probation department, and Paradigm had recommended probation.

“Paradigm, they are no slouch,” Kindlon said, asserting that the psychological practice is trusted on both sides of the courtroom.

“I don’t necessarily disagree with you with regard to the evaluation,” Carter said to Kindlon. Carter said, however, the facts and circumstances stated clearly in the pre-sentence investigation report were a cause for concern.

Jennifer McCanney, an assistant district attorney, told Carter that Schmidt, in his statement to the probation department as well as the court, said he was looking to have a threesome with two other adults, and, it wasn’t until after he had been involved in an online conversation with a police officer posing as the stepfather of a 14-year-old girl, did he learn that the child was underage.

However, McCanney said, Schmidt was made aware immediately that the person with whom he was to engage in sex with was 14 years old, and that it is evident that Schmidt went to the hotel with every intention of having sex with a child — and brought items with him to do so.

In October, Schmidt told the judge that he believed he was going to the Springhill Suites by Marriott on California Avenue in Colonie to have sex with two adults. After his attorney whispered in his ear, Schmidt then admitted that he believed one of the participants would be 14 years old.

Under further questioning, Schmidt said that he had expected the female to be 14, and that he had expected to have intercourse with her, as well as to engage in an “oral sexual contact” with her.

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