Tuesday April 16, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- A local man accused of possessing child pornography pleaded guilty on April 9 and could spend up to 10 years in prison.

According to court documents, Samuel Sergi, 59, of Brattleboro, downloaded and distributed child pornography using file-sharing software. Special agents from the FBI, conducting on several different occasions undercover peer-to-peer operations, downloaded videos of child pornography from a computer located in Sergi’s Brattleboro home.

At least two of the videos found on his computer during a search on Aug. 7 depicted torturous acts on prepubescent children, stated the documents. During the search of his home, Sergi admitted to investigators that he had been downloading child pornography for about five or six years.

Sergi was arrested that same day and released on bond.

Earlier this year, his attorneys filed a motion to have many of the statements he made to investigators suppressed, contending he had not been read his rights and "A reasonable person in Mr. Sergi’s position would have felt he was in custody and effectively under arrest" while he was being questioned at his home.

But federal prosecutors responded that his statements were given voluntarily and he was twice told he was free to leave.

"Sergi made incriminating statements throughout the interview. The agents’ firearms remained holstered. They did not handcuff or restrain Sergi, nor did they use any kind of physical force or contact," stated court documents.

On March 26, a federal judge denied Sergi’s motion to suppress.

During his hearing on April 9, Sergi was ordered into detention pending his sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.

He could be fined up to $250,000 and will be registered as a sex offender. Once Sergi has served whatever term he receives, he will be placed on probation for at least five years, up to lifetime supervised release. Upon release he shall participate in an approved program of sex offender evaluation and treatment, will be forbidden from having contact with anyone under 18 years old except in the presence of a responsible adult and will be forbidden from being in any areas or locations where children are likely to congregate.

Sergi was originally charged with distribution of child pornography, which has a sentence of five to 20 years in prison.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.