Steven Vogel stood before Judge Colette M. Humphrey Tuesday morning in Kern County Superior Court, Bakersfield, to face his sentencing following his "nolo contendere" plea to a felony charge of contacting a minor to commit a sexual offense.
In the end, the judge set Vogel to be released with time served, at which point he will serve five years supervised probation, pay restitution fines and be held to various restrictions.
"This was a very serious case,” said Scott Winkler, Vogel's counsel, following the hearing. “There are no winners here. My client is very remorseful, and in a case like this, I think we should just let the sentence speak for itself."
Prior to the sentencing, Deputy District Attorney Michelle Domino said the maximum Vogel would face was two years, but that she did not expect it to be much more than a year.
"The sentencing went pretty much per the plea bargain," Domino said in a phone interview on Tuesday. "I'm hoping the families can move on and heal from this."
Vogel previously faced four other felony charges, including sodomy and oral copulation with a person under age 16, but the plea deal erased those from his slate.
Absent from any of the five felony charges was an accusation that the minors were forced to commit the acts. When asked about the omission, Domino said, "The charges are as filed."
Vogel's time served amounted to 449 days: 225 actual days and 224 days of good behavior credit.
Vogel is to report to a probation officer within five days of his release and monthly thereafter, as well as refrain from further violations of the law. He is ordered not to associate with minors under the age of 18, or frequent places where minors congregate, although his nephew was excluded from that part of the conditions.
He cannot have any device in his possession capable of accessing the Internet during the term of his probation.
He is to have no personal, electronic, telephonic or written communication with the victims, or come within 500 yards of the victims or their residences and places of employment.
Vogel is to successfully complete counseling pursuant to Penal Code 1203 — which gives the court the right to revoke probation if conditions set during sentencing are not satisfied, even if no additional crimes have been committed — and he must register as a sex offender.
In his comments following the judge's ruling, Winkler said his client is basically done with the legal proceedings, and is eager to get started in counseling. Winkler added that having Vogel registered as a sex offender for his lifetime was a point on which the DA would not budge.
Vogel was also ordered to pay restitution to the parents of the victims' families in an amount to be determined by the probation department. According to the court's website, Vogel owes $1,520 in fines, $280 of which is for restitution and $1,170 of which is for commission of the crime.
Vogel was originally arrested in February on allegations of contacting two teenage boys via the Internet for sex. He formerly ran unsuccessfully for a position on the board of the Tehachapi Unified School District and was among founders of the Tehachapi Anti-Bullying Coalition.