NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Scott Lee Penny entered a guilty plea in federal court Friday to one count of transferring obscene material to a minor.
A second and third count of the same charge were dropped, as was a charge of attempted coercion of a minor, as part of the plea deal.
Penny, 38, is just months away from the 20-year mark of his Navy career, but now he could face up to a decade behind bars.
“He’s always wanted to accept responsibility for what he’s done and I think this was the opportunity to do that,” Penny’s attorney Scott Hallauer said after the plea deal was made.
In pleading guilty to the count, Penny admits he sent pornographic videos of himself, and of others, to a person he thought was a 13-year-old girl using the app KiK. The recipient was really an undercover federal agent.
“He was graphic in his intentions, asked the girl to engage in sexual activity, repeatedly sent pictures of his penis to the girl, and sent videos of himself masturbating to the girl,” the government wrote in a filing.
“Oh, he’s definitely remorseful and he’s seeking treatment,” Hallauer said.
Hallauer argues Penny has a problem that jail time won’t fix, and instead plans to argue for sex offense treatment at sentencing, which is set for December 4th.
In the meantime, Hallauer has also filed a motion asking to have Penny freed now. He says Penny needs immediate back surgery stemming from an old injury that could cause permanent damage. He also wrote asking for Penny to go back to work — and reach that 20-year career milestone before “his retirement benefits are in jeopardy of becoming lost.”
The motion — filed in late July — also acknowledges that Penny’s Navy command has given him notice of an administrative separation process.
“It is anticipated that, without the Navy pay, the family will no longer be able to afford their home. If Chief Penny was released from detention, he could report to work, receive his pay, get his much-needed surgery, perhaps maintain his retirement eligibility and actively participate and defend his administrative separation.”
No date has been set for Hallauer to argue that motion, but the government has filed its response, balking at many of those claims.
Regarding his need for immediate back surgery, the government argues Penny sent many selfies, later gathered as evidence, from a gym locker room. The government argues those photos are proof Penny “spent a lot of time working out a the gym, which goes against any claim of the immediate necessity for surgery,” according to a court filing.
Regarding going back to work, the government argues the crime “flies against what the military stands for and mars the honorable institution.”