Former Carroll County Public Schools teacher, principal and Teacher of the Year Kenneth Brian Fischer, 40, pleaded guilty in federal court this week to the production of child pornography, bringing some closure to a case that began more than one year ago.
Fischer was first arrested Sept. 13, 2017, in Westminster as a fugitive from justice, then was extradited to Virginia on charges related to soliciting minors online. He has been in custody ever since.
He was federally indicted in February in relation to the alleged use of a facility of interstate commerce to attempt to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity.
In May, a superseding indictment brought eight charges related to the production of child pornography, attempted production of child pornography, transportation of child pornography, receipt of child pornography and using a facility of interstate commerce to attempt to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity.
How long will Fischer be incarcerated?
Fischer pleaded guilty to one federal count of production of child pornography on Tuesday, Dec. 18. As a part of that deal, Fischer will be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 25 years. Part of the plea also requires Fischer to register as a sex offender upon release.
Judge Richard D. Bennett, in the rearraignment hearing Tuesday, said because the federal system no longer has parole, Fischer would not get out early on parole. But, Fischer could still be released early due to good behavior, Marcia Murphy, a public affairs specialist for U.S. District Court, said. The rate does not accrue as quickly at the federal level as it does at the state level, she said.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, “inmates may earn up to 54 days of credit a year for ‘good conduct.’ ”
What happens to the Virginia state charges, as well as the other federal charges?
Fischer’s Virginia charges were superseded by the original federal indictment that came in February.
In May, the superseding indictment came down federally, replacing that initial charge with eight charges. Seven of those charges were dismissed when Fischer pleaded guilty to Count 1, which was for the production of child pornography.
Did any tips come into the tip line about Carroll County students?
Following Fischer’s arrest, local authorities created a phone line to accept information on possible victims.
“We have no additional actionable or sustained allegations [against Fischer] that we are working on either through a tip line or additional investigative interviews that were originally conducted,” Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees said via text Wednesday.
Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo deferred comment to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
What did the school system know?
At the time Fischer was initially charged, he was working as a teacher at West Middle School. In November 2014, the date from which the production of child pornography charge he pleaded guilty to stems, Fischer was working as a principal at Manchester Valley High School. He served in that capacity from 2013 to 2015.
Four days before the start of the school year in 2015, Fischer requested a return to the classroom and was transferred to Sykesville Middle School for the 2015-16 year. He taught at Mount Airy Middle in 2016-17 before moving to West Middle for the 2017-2018 year.
“We did not know of any previous issues involving minors in CCPS while Fischer was employed and have not learned of any issues involving Fischer and minors in CCPS since the investigation began,” school system spokeswoman Carey Gaddis said via email Wednesday.
What happens next in the case?
Fischer, who is incarcerated in the Chesapeake Detention Facility in Baltimore, will remain there until his sentencing, which is scheduled for May 20 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Once sentenced, Fischer will be transferred into the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which will determine where he is housed, Murphy said.
Bennett said the time Fischer has been in federal custody — which began March 9 — will count toward his time served, though whether the nearly six months prior in state custody — which began the previous Sept. 13 — will be counted, has yet to be determined, and is not up to the judge.
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“I can make the recommendation, but I can’t guarantee they’ll give you six months for that,” Bennett said at the Tuesday hearing.