A federal judge on Friday sentenced a retired U.S. Navy commander who graduated from the Naval Academy to six years of federal prison time after he admitted to possessing more than 90,000 images, along with thousands of videos, of child sexual abuse on electronic devices at his home.
Prosecutors said in court filings that Anne Arundel County police searched the Odenton home of 51-year-old Armando Ramirez, Jr., in 2020 after authorities said he requested child pornography files online using encrypted file-sharing software.
At Ramirez’s home, police seized multiple laptops, hard drives and a flash drive containing the files, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam K. Ake described in a court filing as a “huge trove” of child pornography.
“Some of the images and videos depicted the sexual abuse of toddlers,” a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland says.
Ramirez, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was charged with receipt of child pornography in July 2021 and pleaded guilty to a count at his September arraignment. His case remained sealed from public view until last month, when U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander questioned attorneys as to why the case was sealed, court records say.
There was no evidence that Ramirez distributed or produced child pornography, Ake wrote in a court filing.
Ake and Ramirez’s lawyer, Joseph Murtha, suggested in sentencing documents that Ramirez was not likely to reoffend when he is released. Ake noted that Ramirez promptly accepted responsibility for the offense, complied with pre-trial supervision and submitted to psychological counseling.
“From his entry into the Naval Reserves after high school in order to enter into the Naval Academy Prep School, his matriculation and graduation from the United States Naval Academy, to his 30-year career in the United States Navy, [Ramirez] has dedicated his life to serving our country,” Murtha wrote in Ramirez’s sentencing memorandum.
Murtha filed several letters from Ramirez’s former colleagues and fellow midshipmen, who said they were disappointed with Ramirez’s actions, but expressed admiration towards his character and dedication to the service.
During his Naval career, Ramirez spent nearly 13 years either forward deployed or aboard ships, a former classmate and close friend wrote in a letter to the judge. He retired in 2019 after serving in Bahrain on the staff of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet commander. He previously held numerous posts throughout the branch, including a tenure at the Pentagon where he aided the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children identified several of the children pictured in Ramirez’s collection, and prosecutors notified their representatives, Ake wrote. Attorneys for 18 of the victims requested that Ramirez pay restitution, sending victim impact statements and documentation of their clients’ trauma to prosecutors.
Knowing that images and videos of their abuse continue to circulate online “haunts the victims, and that haunting will never end,” Ake wrote.
During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Hollander deferred on making a decision on how much restitution money Ramirez should pay to the victims, a sentencing sheet says. The judge ordered him to pay $15,000 to the Child Pornography Victims Reserve, a federal fund which distributes payouts to child pornography victims who elect not to fight in court for restitution.
Ramirez also was ordered to complete a sex offense-specific treatment program.
After serving his six-year prison sentence, Ramirez will serve ten years of supervised probation, court records say. He will not be allowed to have contact with minors without permission from his probation officer during that period and will have monitoring software installed on his electronic devices. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender.
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