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Former lawmaker admits sex trafficking

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)  A former Oklahoma state senator accused of engaging in child prostitution and pornography pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal charge of child sex trafficking.

Former two-term Republican state Sen. Ralph Shortey entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti in exchange for federal prosecutors dropping three child pornography charges against him.

Shortey, dressed in a blue suit and wearing a GPS tracking device on his left ankle, said nothing when DeGiusti ordered him back into federal custody pending sentencing. Shortey removed his jacket and tie, and federal marshals handcuffed him and led him away.

Shortey faces between 10 years and life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for child sex trafficking. The judge did not set a sentencing date.

The 35-year-old Shortey resigned in March after he was arrested on state charges of engaging in child prostitution and transporting a minor for prostitution.

Police in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore arrested Shortey, a married father of four, in March after they found him with a 17-year-old boy in a motel room and accused him of hiring the boy for sex. Acting on a tip from the teenager's father, police went to the motel and smelled marijuana coming from a room where they found Shortey and the boy.

A police report indicated a search of the teen's tablet computer uncovered a series of sexually explicit exchanges in which Shortey referred to the teen as "baby boy" and offered him cash in exchange for "sexual stuff."

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