Federal agent plea deal in child porn case is rejected in San Antonio
The plans of a federal agent to plead guilty to child pornography charges in San Antonio have hit a snag.
Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra rejected the plea deal signed by Richard Gratkowski, who spent 10 years with Homeland Security Investigations before he was arrested in January, because it is the judge’s policy to not accept conditional plea deals.
Gratkowski, 40, had signed a plea deal last week in which he had agreed to plead guilty to a charge of receiving child pornography and a separate count of accessing child porn with intent to view it. The plea deal came with a condition that he could preserve any rights to challenge certain evidence via a motion to suppress.
“We had a conditional plea agreement which was not approved by (Judge Ezra),” Gratkowski’s lawyer, assistant federal public defender Marina Thais Douenat told U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Bemporad at a hearing Thursday. “This is our only way to preserve our motion to suppress. My client chose to not have a trial by jury. ...We’re willing to stipulate to the elements of the offense, but reserve our right to raise motions to suppress.”
Ezra referred the matter to Bemporad this week, and Gratkwoski told Bemporad that he agrees to have a bench trial in front of Ezra. Gratkwoski changed his plea to not guilty. The trial is tentatively set for next month.
Gratkowski, who worked gang investigations, was caught as part of a probe by his own agency and the Internal Revenue Service into a child porn website on the dark web.
His case was then referred to the FBI, which found he had allegedly been accessing child porn for months using the dark web and at least one social media application.
Guillermo Contreras covers federal court and immigration news in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @gmaninfedland