VENTURA — An Oxnard man who had attempted to pay for sex with a 3-year-old girl was sentenced to eight years in prison Friday.
Before he was sentenced, Marc Charles Leege, 38, sobbed as prosecutors played a videotape that showed him bargaining with an undercover police officer posing as the mother of a fictitious infant.
"I can't believe that pathetic excuse for a human had the audacity to cry," Deputy Dist. Atty. Mark Pachowicz said as he left the courtroom.
The balding, slender Leege apologized for his conduct in a short statement to Superior Court Judge Charles W. Campbell.
"I hope the court sees how anxious I am to redeem myself to my family, my friends in this community," he said. "I can only pray for your understanding and your mercy."
The judge said his plea carried little weight.
"I don't have any real compassion for him because I don't understand it," Campbell said from the bench. "I'm unimpressed with his contrition or his supposed contrition."
Leege could have received up to 12 years in prison for two counts of soliciting to commit lewd acts with a child under 14 and two counts of pandering. But the judge had previously said Leege would get six to eight in exchange for a guilty plea.
Leege's lawyer, public defender Joe Villasana, had asked for a six-year term, noting that despite the "reprehensible" nature of the crime, his client had expressed true remorse.
But Pachowicz argued for a longer sentence despite the agreement.
"This defendant is a pedophile, and I think it's wrong the only reason this defendant gets less is because he pleads guilty," he told the judge. "This defendant will be out on the streets in four years if you give him eight years, and that's too soon."
But Campbell said that as horrible as Leege's comments were during the videotaped negotiation, there was no evidence the mechanic had ever committed sexual acts with children.
Police set up the sting after a former prostitute Leege knew contacted authorities after he showed an inordinate amount of interest in her 3-year-old daughter.
The woman testified in court Friday that Leege had told her it "wouldn't bother him" if the toddler was in the same bed with them when they had sex. He had also asked the woman to put a "cute little nightie" on her daughter, a request she regarded as "a little strange," she told the court.