Ex-Subway pitchman Jared Fogle to plead guilty to paying for sex with minors

Jared Fogle, who for years served as the national spokesman for the sandwich chain Subway, is facing federal charges that he paid to engage in sexually explicit acts with children and that he received and distributed child pornography, according to federal documents.

Fogle, 37, is expected to plead guilty to the charges. He will also pay $1.4 million to 14 victims in restitution for counseling, support, treatment, or other assistance related to their victimization.

According to court documents released Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Indianapolis, Fogle used websites to solicit commercial sex and traveled to engage in sexual acts with minors from 2007 until June 2015.

The documents also allege that Fogle received images and videos of nude children from the former executive director of Fogle’s childhood obesity charity, Russell Taylor. Taylor also distributed pornographic images of children who were as young as six to Fogle, the documents allege.

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“Today, Jared Fogle has been charged and has admitted to participating in a five-year criminal scheme to exploit children,” U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said in a press conference on Wednesday. “This is about using wealth, status, and secrecy to illegally exploit children.”

Agents from the FBI’s Indianapolis field office processed Fogle on Wednesday morning, Special Agent Wendy Osborne told The Washington Post. Fogle was fingerprinted, photographed and escorted to the federal courthouse, where he was scheduled for an initial appearance later in the day — weeks after his home was raided by investigators.

Fogle appeared before a magistrate judge Wednesday morning for a 12-minute hearing during which he appeared somber, according to a local reporter who was in the courtroom. He answered “no” when asked if he had any questions about his rights.

He was released with electronic monitoring. Amid a crush of reporters, Fogle walked out of the courthouse to a waiting car.

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Fogle’s attorney spoke briefly with reporters after his client’s court appearance, saying that Fogle was going to plead guilty to the charges.

“Jared Fogle expects to go to prison,” attorney Jeremy Margolis said. “He will do his time.”

Margolis said Fogle also expects to “continue to make amends” to those affected by his actions, and “at some point hopes to once again become a productive member of society.”

On Wednesday, law enforcement said that the investigation began at the state level as a tip from a concerned citizen. Investigators combed through tens of thousands of text messages, e-mails and photographs as part of the inquiry.

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Four of the victims identified in the case are now adults, federal officials said.

Federal prosecutors have agreed not to ask for a prison sentence greater than 12 1/2 years; Fogle has agreed to not ask for a sentence of less than five years. However, the court could impose a sentence that is higher or lower than the recommendations from both parties. The child pornography charges carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence and the child sex charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.

Fogle has been under a cloud of suspicion since the July raid in Zionsville, a suburb of Indianapolis. Media crews watched as investigators removed electronics from the home and shuttled items to an evidence truck parked outside.

According to documents, a dozen minor victims were secretly filmed and photographed in Taylor’s home, and those sexually explicit images were then distributed to Fogle and others. Fogle allegedly knew the victims were under the age of 18 and that they were being secretly recorded. In some cases, Fogle knew their names, addresses and socialized with them at events in Indiana, the documents allege.

Fogle timed his business travel to coincide with his pursuit of “commercial sex acts,” according to the documents. Federal investigators claim he traveled between Indiana and New York City to engage in sexual acts with at least two minors, who court documents refer to as Victim 13 and Victim 14. Both victims were minor girls who were trafficked online.

In one incident on Nov. 3, 2012, the documents say, Fogle paid for sex with Victim 13 — who was 17 years old at the time — at New York City’s Plaza Hotel. He also offered to pay her money if she could find another underage girl for him to have sex with. Fogle, the court documents state, told the girl that “the younger the girl, the better.”

After the July raid, Subway announced that it had “mutually agreed” to suspend its relationship with Fogle, saying that both the company and its star pitchman “agree that this was the appropriate step to take.” Fogle’s attorney also noted at the time that his client had not been charged with a crime or arrested.

On Tuesday, as local TV stations began to report that Fogle would face federal charges, a spokeswoman for Subway said in a statement that the company had already ended its relationship with Fogle and had “no further comment.” It was not clear when that relationship ended.

In a statement Wednesday, Fogle’s wife Katie Fogle said that she is “extremely shocked and disappointed” by the allegations against her husband. She added that she is in the process of “seeking a dissolution of the marriage.”

“My focus is exclusively on the well-being of my children,” Fogle said. “Neither I nor my family will have any further comment on the matter.”

The raid at Fogle’s home earlier this summer came after the former executive director of Fogle’s charity, Taylor, was arrested after investigators said they found hundreds of child pornography videos at his home.

Taylor was charged with seven federal counts of production of child pornography and one possession charge. According to investigators, Taylor may have filmed sexually explicit videos of minors in his home between 2012 and 2015.

Fogle became the face of the sandwich shop in 2000, as the story of his “Subway diet” helped the Connecticut-based chain market itself as a healthier option. Fogle said he lost 245 pounds as a college student in Indiana by exercising and eating Subway sandwiches.