OKLAHOMA CITY – A former state senator could face up to life in prison after pleading guilty to child sex trafficking.
Former Sen. Ralph Shortey, 35, entered a guilty plea Thursday after being caught with a 17-year-old boy at a motel. On March 9, the Moore Police Department was called shortly before 1 a.m to the Super 8 motel on N. Service Road for a runaway teen.
According to court documents, the friend of the 17-year-old boy watched him get into an SUV near his home. The friend then followed the vehicle to the hotel where the teen was seen going into a room with an unknown man, later identified as Shortey.
Moore police said they found Shortey in the hotel room, which had a strong smell of marijuana. They said condoms were also found.
In court Thursday, Shortey admitted to first talking to the boy on a social media app before arranging to meet up. The boy needed money for spring break and was willing to exchange sexual favors.
His attorney, Ed Blau, told reporters Shortey was 'humiliated' for his actions.
"He feels terrible for putting his family through this. He feels terrible for his constituents. If he could go back and take every bit of it back, he would," Blau said.
As part of the plea deal, three counts of child pornography charges were dropped.
While the minimum punishment is 10 years for the child sex trafficking count, Blau said the federal system requires 85 percent of that sentence to be served. Shortey faces a maximum of life in prison.
In court, Blau argued his client was not a flight risk and should be released pending sentencing. He added Shortey has a wife and four kids who are all homeschooled. Judge Timothy Deguisti denied the request, taking Shortey in federal custody immediately.
"The standards are so unbelievably high for somebody to remain on bond after pleading guilty to a charge such as this that the judge denied it. I was hopeful, but I'm not surprised," Blau said.
A sentencing date has not been set yet. Shortey will remain in federal custody at the Grady County jail.