BRATTLEBORO -- A Saxtons River man accused of having more than 15,000 digital images of child pornography was sentenced to 65 months in prison on Monday. In addition, Dylan Lester, 26, will have to spend 10 years on supervised release after he serves his prison term.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Vermont, Lester distributed child pornography images using internet file-sharing software.
In sentencing Lester, Federal District Court Judge Christina Reiss noted the size of Lester's child pornography collection, which she described as one of the largest ever seized in Vermont. Some of the images depicted torture of young children.
"This is an atypically large collection for Vermont," agreed Assistant United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan, who prosecuted the case.
In 2005, Lester was found to be in possession of more than 900 images of child pornography. In that case, Lester was not charged with a federal crime because he was 17 years old at the time. Instead, the U.S. Attorney's Office deferred prosecution to the Windham County State's Attorney's Office. Because the press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office came in after business hours, the Reformer was unable to contact the county court to determine how Lester's previous case was resolved.
The current case against Lester began on Dec. 23, 2011, while a computer forensics detective in the South Burlington Police Department was conducting an undercover operation.
The detective observed on an IP address, which was later determined to belong to Lester, three files depicting child pornography.
On March 27, 2012, federal agents conducted a raid of Lester's home.
"When we arrived at the premises, no one was home, and the door was unlocked," wrote the lead agent in a court filing. "Agents entered the home, conducted a security sweep, and confirmed the home was unoccupied. We commenced a search of the home and located, among other things, a desktop computer in a downstairs common room, and a desktop computer and several hard drives in a bedroom on the second floor."
Lester was called to the scene and he told investigators that he downloaded both adult and child pornography, saving the files in specific folders with associated dates.
"He stated, in substance, that he saved child pornography for his personal use and stated that he was the only one who knew about it," wrote the agent. "He stated that there would be pornographic pictures of children under 12 on his computer."
The investigation was led by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations, and assisted by the South Burlington, Vermont Police Department and the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
The prosecution of Lester was part of Operation Green Wave, a collaborative effort amongst state and federal law enforcement agencies, targeting child pornography offenders who use file sharing software. This prosecution was part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.
For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.