“Keith Farnham? Didn’t he vote for pension theft?” I was asked yesterday.
“Apparently that may be the best thing he did,” I responded.
When he resigned his seat on March 19, Farnham told the Tribune he was stepping down due to serious health concerns. A Navy veteran who ran a painting business in Elgin before running for office in 2009, Farnham said he is receiving treatment for bladder cancer and also struggles with pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that causes lung tissue to scar.
Farnham did not return calls for comment Monday. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Former colleagues, meanwhile, reacted with shock Monday.
“Those of us who know him I don’t think would have suspected this,” said state Sen. Mike Noland, the Elgin Democrat whose district included Farnham’s former district.
Democratic Rep. Mary Flowers, a longtime advocate for children, called the charges “very serious.” But she said she wanted to withhold judgment, saying, “I don’t want to cast him off as being guilty until he’s been found guilty.”
According to the charges, the investigation began when homeland security agents received a tip from its Cyber Crimes Center that email address firstname.lastname@example.org was being used to trade child pornography on the Internet.
A search of Yahoo! logs showed a series of graphic instant messenger conversations between last June and January in which kimdavid5582 allegedly chatted with three other users about sexual preferences and exploits, according to the charges. Authorities later traced the Internet usage to the Comcast account at Farnham’s home, according to the charges.
In one online conversation in November with a person identified only as “User A,” Farnham allegedly described in detail a sexual encounter with a 6-year-old girl.
In another chat a few weeks later, Farnham allegedly told User A, “i wish i had access to all the vids and pics ever made.”
Former Elgin mayor Ed Schock, who worked closely with Farnham on legislative issues, said Monday the charges were “almost beyond comprehension.”
“It’s hard to really get my head around,” Schock said.