Judge Accepts Plea In Online Enticing Case

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WILKES-BARRE -- A former educator from Lackawanna County stood in front of a federal judge Tuesday and pleaded guilty to online enticement of minors.

That judge accepted a plea deal to send Mark Kandel to prison for at least 13 years.

Kandel of Peckville is a former educator and once sat on the Scranton School Board. He was charged by federal investigators in December, 2012 on those child sex charges and Tuesday he admitted to asking teenage boys to send him naked pictures on his phone and through Facebook.

Federal prosecutors charged Kandel with the online enticement of five teenage boys.  They said Kandel sent thousands of text messages and Facebook messages to them that were sexual in nature and sometimes asked them for naked pictures.

At Kandel's guilty plea hearing at the federal courthouse in Wilkes-Barre, prosecutor Michelle Olshefski told a judge she could have charged Kandel with more child sex crimes.  But instead they settled on a deal to send Kandel to prison for 13 to 19 years.

Kandel pleaded guilty to one count of online enticement of minors.

Kandel's attorney Frank Santomauro says though a deal was made, Kandel only admitted to the crime he was charged with.

"I know of the indictment. I can account for those individuals, but there's so called other individuals that they have spoken to, even subsequent to us working out this deal," Santomauro said.

In court, federal prosecutors went through the evidence they would have used if Kandel's case had gone to trial.   Prosecutors say they spoke with 17 teenage boys who said they had sexual conversations with Kandel. Prosecutors say three of those boys sent Kandel pictures of themselves in their underwear.

Kandel is scheduled to be formally sentenced in September. He will also have to register as a sex offender as a part of the plea agreement.