Two men were sentenced to prison this morning in the 33rd Circuit Court.
Jerry Joe Gildner, 43, Gaylord, was sentenced to serve a minimum of 29 months in prison following his guilty pleas to charges of surveilling an unclothed person and using a computer to commit a crime.
According to an affidavit filed in the case, Gildner created videos of individuals having sex by either hiding a video camera or by filming through a door that was ajar. The recordings were found on Gildner’s computer and computer equipment when police executed a search warrant at his home.
In imposing the sentences, which exceeded the recommended guideline range, Judge Roy C. Hayes III stated, “People should not be recorded like this. This is a serious violation of the criminal law.”
Hayes stated that the guidelines did not take into account the sheer number of victims, the destruction that the defendant’s behavior had caused. He sentenced Gildner to serve 18 to 48 months on the computer crime and 11 to 24 months on the surveilling charge, with the sentences to be served consecutively or back-to-back.
“This sentence was possible due to letters written by three strong women who suffered as a result of this defendant’s actions. They faced him and they are now all safe from his actions,” Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof said. “This was also a result of excellent police work by the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office and Detective Ben Speigl in particular.”
Tracy Owen Penfold, 58, Boyne Falls, was also sentenced to prison on a charge of possession of child sexually abusive material. Penfold had pleaded guilty on October 1, 2021.
Court records indicate that, on a computer that Penfold had taken from his work, police found over 90 images of child sexually abusive material that had been accessed from the internet. Some of the images showed children as young as infants and toddlers.
Penfold was sentenced to serve 20 to 48 months with the Michigan Department of Corrections. He is also now a registered sex offender.
In imposing sentence, which was another upward departure from the sentencing guidelines, Judge Hayes indicated that the guidelines did not account for the number of offenses, the harm to the children involved and the ages of the children involved.
“I was very pleased that the judge took notice of the fact that this is not a victimless crime or ‘just’ a pornography addiction,” Telgenhof noted. “These types of offenders create the market online for children to be abused, as the court said.”
“Common Angle, an IT support company in Petoskey, was critical to this case. They noticed that the defendant was utilizing a work computer and they discovered what he was accessing and notified law enforcement. This prosecution would not have happened if not for them.”
“The Michigan State Police Computer Crimes Division was able to locate the images and Dr. Cynthia Smith was our expert witness, reviewing these disturbing images, preparing a report and testifying as to the ages of the children that were shown,” Telgenhof said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to all who worked on this case.”