Jared Fogle, onetime face of Subway, faces years in prison for child sex charges

Jared Fogle, who was the face of the Subway restaurant chain for 15 years, will plead guilty to distributing and receiving child pornography and engaging in sex acts with minors, his attorney and federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Federal charging documents released Wednesday morning accused the former Subway pitchman of participating in a years-long scheme to sexually exploit children.

According to the terms of a plea agreement released by federal prosecutors, Fogle has agreed to plead guilty to one count of distribution and receipt of child pornography and one count of traveling to engage in unlawful sex acts with minors. He faces at least five years in prison, and prosecutors have agreed not to request a sentence of more than 12.5 years. 

A judge will ultimately decide Fogle's sentence.

In a statement, Fogle's attorney, Jeremy Margolis, said that his client will plead guilty to all charges and has been examined by a "world-renowned expert in sexual conditions" to begin his recovery.

"Jared Fogle expects to go to prison, he will do his time, he expects to get well, he expects to continue to make amends to those people whose lives he has affected," Fogle's attorney, Jeremy Margolis, said outside the courthouse Wednesday.

Fogle has also agreed to pay a total of $1.4 million to 14 victims.

Fogle's wife, Katie Fogle, said in a statement released by her attorney that she is seeking a divorce. "Obviously, I am extremely shocked and disappointed by the recent developments involving Jared," the statement said. The couple have children.

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Subway continued to distance itself from Fogle on Tuesday as news of the plea deal began to leak, formally ending a relationship that had turned Fogle — who lost more than 200 pounds on a diet of Subway sandwiches — into a household name and launched one of the nation's most successful and enduring advertising campaigns.

"We no longer have a relationship with Jared and have no further comment," the sandwich chain said on Twitter.

Wednesday's announcement was the result of a months-long investigation that examined dozens of cellphones and computers and hundreds of thousands of text messages and emails.

The investigation began with a tip from a private citizen "many months ago," said Doug Carter, Superintendent of the Indiana State Police, who, along with the FBI and Indianapolis Police Department, investigated Fogle.

"I cannot think of anything more repugnant than sexually victimizing a child," he said.

Fogle, 37, became the focus of public suspicion in July when federal agents seized documents and electronics from his home in an Indianapolis suburb.

That day, Subway said that it and Fogle "mutually agreed to suspend their relationship."

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Law enforcement officials at the time would not confirm an investigation, but the news came two months after Russell Taylor, a former executive at Fogle's Jared Foundation, was arrested on suspicion of possessing and producing child pornography.

Investigators said Taylor sexually exploited a dozen children to produce pornography in the bathrooms and bedrooms of his home between 2011 and 2015, according to criminal complaints. The children did not know they were being filmed, according to the complaint.

The documents released Wednesday allege that Fogle and Taylor "discussed among themselves" Taylor's secret recordings of minors and that Fogle "made comments approving of this activity."

The documents also allege Fogle accessed some of the pornography Taylor had obtained from others on a computer provided by Taylor, and sometimes through text messages or on a thumb drive. 

Fogle also went to New York City multiple times between 2010 and 2013 and paid to have sex with teenage girls, one of whom was 17, according to the documents. The incidents are said to have occurred at the Plaza and Ritz Carlton hotels, where Fogle was staying. 

Shortly after Taylor's arrest in April, Fogle released a statement saying he was "shocked" by the allegations and was severing all ties with Taylor, the Associated Press reported.

Fogle began appearing in Subway commercials in 2000, after the story of his dramatic weight loss while on a diet that relied heavily on Subway food appeared in Men's Health magazine.

While a student at Indiana University in 1998, Fogle weighed 425 pounds and was unable to walk across campus. After switching to a diet that included two of the restaurant's sandwiches a day and exercising more, he shed more than half his body weight in less than a year, the official story goes.

Fogle was crucial to Subway's marketing. According to AdAge, sales fell 10% after ads featuring him briefly stopped airing in 2005. 

The "before and after" images of Fogle at his highest weight and after his Subway diet were a "very positive association" for the brand, Ira Kalb, assistant professor of clinical marketing at the USC Marshall School of Business, told The Times last month.

Times staff writer James Queally contributed to this report.

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Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

10:40 a.m. Updated with additional details from Fogle's lawyers and a statement from his wife.

8:31 a.m. This story was updated with details from the documents released on Wednesday.

This story was published at 7:04 a.m.

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