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Judge: Man must serve out sentence
Refuses to reduce time in jail
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Forsyth County News

A judge has refused to shorten the amount of time a Forsyth County man convicted of child pornography charges must spend behind bars.

Visiting retired Judge Howard Cook of Gwinnett County ruled Monday that Erik Lottes must complete his original sentence as issued in February.

In January, a Forsyth County Superior Court jury found Lottes guilty of six counts of sexual exploitation of children following a weeklong trial.

Lottes, 46, was sentenced to serve 18 months total, with six to 12 months in a probation detention facility before being released on probation for the remainder of 10 years.

Lottes’ attorney, Tony Axam, said during a Sept. 10 hearing that his client has served 5.5 months in the Paulding County Detention Center.

According to Axam, the request to modify the sentence stems from Lottes’ mental health condition, which is reportedly deteriorating because he cannot receive his medication at the center.

“Those three remaining weeks are not as critical to the court’s sentence as it is to his mental health,” Axam said.

Lottes had the option to serve his sentence at a probation detention center in south Georgia, where he would have received his medication, but chose Paulding County because his family could visit him there.

Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney Michael Mahoney noted that choice, and also said the court had granted a sentence below the mandatory minimum of 20 years, with five to serve, per count.

“This man should not be cut another break,” Mahoney said.

In determining the sentence, Cook had previously said he took into account the fact that Lottes was the sole provider for his family. In addition, his twin teenage sons require extensive medical treatment for an immunodeficiency disease.

In denying the sentence modification, however, Cook wrote that Lottes made no argument that “the sentence is void or contrary to law in any manner.”

“Defendant simply contends that his medical condition has deteriorated without medication,” Cook continued. “However, defendant does not contend that he has requested a transfer to a detention center at which he can receive any warranted medication.”

If Lottes were to request a move to the south Georgia facility, Cook ordered the probation department to transfer him “as soon as space is available.”

A motion for a new trial is pending.

Lottes testified during the January trial that he first became aware there was suspected child pornography at his house in January 2009, when authorities showed up looking for it.

According to testimony, suspected images of child pornography were found on two computers, kept in a room next to the laundry room, that both of his sons used to download music, videos and adult pornography.

Lottes testified that he initially confessed to possessing the images for fear his sons would be arrested.