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VT: Former high-ranking VTANG member pleads guilty in child pornography case

[mychamplainvalley.com – 11/28/20]

A Shelburne man who was once a high-ranking member of the Vermont Air National Guard will avoid a federal child pornography trial by pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

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It’s revealing how the rich, powerful, and famous treat their own kind regarding sex crimes. They sentence them to lesser crimes because they realize the sentences regular people receive are often excessive.

Assuming the ambiguous wording “registering for Vermont’s sex offender list” means for life, then I think that would be the most serious part of his sentence.

Maybe when enough rich and powerful people are on the registry then they will revert the registry to law-enforcement-only access, which is how it all started.

He was not high ranking because Major’s aren’t high ranking to begin with. Here, a kicker is because his is retired military, he is still subject to the UCMJ and could be recalled to face prosecution for the entire suite of initial charges. So, before saying they are taking care of their own, the state got a pound of flesh here, but the DoD could really get a pound of flesh and then some if they wanted to pursue charges, where he could lose his retirement, VA benefits, etc.

He will not lose any benefits because the requirement for that is to be incarcerated for more than 60 days. His sentence was suspended, probably to protect his benefits. And yes, in the National Guard, a Major is considered a higher rank.

@ADAT

It’s VA service connected disability benefits which are docked if incarcerated more than 60 days, not service retirement pay and benefits, https://www.benefits.va.gov/persona/veteran-incarcerated.asp I stand corrected on that.

However, military retirement pay isn’t a pension but deferred pay (Barker v Kansas ’92). The retired member retains a relationship with their service branch by law and makes them still able to be charged under the UCMJ as I said below during retirement. If at GCM they are found guilty, their discharge could be downgraded and they’d possibly lose retirement benefits, not service connected disabilities payments.

In the ANG, a major is a major. Their job duty is what determines their food chain placement and possible elevation status.

Unless DOD wants to make an example of him they probably wont go after him. My conviction was same offence and a felony, “Never to be reduced” with 12 mo. in custody, 2 years probation. They never came after me. Difference was I was an E5-SGT Army NG.

I would be surprised if after all is said and done, he is required to register as a sex offender.

I think the term “high-ranking” was just used to add shock value. Majors are actually in the middle of the rank progression, unless you count the varying degrees of general, in which case they’d be in the lower half. He’s not subject to UCMJ if he’s retired, but they can revoke all his retirement benefits and whatnot based on felony convictions alone. He’ll likely keep them because he’s taking a plea for a misdemeanor.

More revealing I think is that the story focused on the charges and didn’t say a single word about the circumstances that led to them, that the Feds are willing to allow a plea to a state misdemeanor, and that he more than likely had the CP attached to his computer/cell in one of those entrapment stings makes me think that the entire affair is considerably less alarming than what the reporter would have us think.

@ Anonymous, registration was part of the plea. I don’t know about Vermont law, but I suspect his registration won’t be for life on a misdemeanor. But of course, that is subject to numerous revisions.

@Dustin

I’m going to gently correct you on several military points.

1) He, the good retired Major, is still subject to the UCMJ as a retiree. See https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/02/25/military-retirees-can-still-be-court-martialed-supreme-court-affirms/ Therefore, he still can be prosecuted to the fullest extent the DoD wants and not be double jeopardy eligible. He can be recalled to active duty to face it. Considering the military takes this seriously, he should be ready for it. If found guilty, he’s under DoD instruction then for tiers (cross refs to the feds) & registration.

2) They cannot just take his retirement without due process of law, even in the military.

3) I know where Majors are in the officer food chain. That’s why I said they are not high ranking. Seem them in action. The media used the label because he was the LRO for his VTANG unit. That is the top dog of logistics at that particular place which would make him higher in the overall unit food chain by title but not necessarily by rank.

I stand corrected on all but the double jeopardy aspect.

He could also be prosecuted by the DOJ for federal crimes. Although because the military courts derive their authority from the federal sovereign, he couldn’t be prosecuted by both the military and the federal DOJ. That would be double jeopardy.

I am curious about his plea agreement. If there is any admission to the pornography actions, he would have little defense on the federal side. A plea agreement is a sworn document subjecting one to potential perjury charges if denied later. The feds and states often collaborate in this way. When I was in federal pretrial, I met someone who had pornography charges. When I asked if he was going to fight, he replied he could not because his state plea contained admissions to ALL the elements of the federal crimes (what a coincidence). Only when a state judge later reduced his sentence to probation, did the federal prosecutor bring federal charges–with conviction certain.

Often a soft state sentence in a plea is used to lure a defendant into a federal trap, where sentences are generally harsher than at the state level. Be careful what you sign.

Veritas.

If the guy had a halfway decent attorney, he probably would have removed the threat of federal prosecution as a condition of his guilty plea to the state charges. At least that’s what happened in my case.

I stand corrected.

@Dustin – all good.

Gamble v US discussed double jeopardy at SCOTUS between state and feds (with military taking feds side). SCOTUS affirmed this practice is ok. It is not liked but can be done.
https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/do-soldiers-face-double-jeopardy-in-military-courts

He could possibly be tried on Article 133, Conduct Unbecoming, also which would damage him severely at General Court-Martial or possibly other CP related UCMJ charges if they can make them stick. However, Art 133 is the catch all charge to make him an example for military people.

The one thing that got my attention the most in this article is:
A CP charge which is only a misdemeanor

I did not even know there was such an animal.. I thought any type of CP charge would be a felony. I thought just the words “CP” is equal to at least 15 years in prison.

Perhaps on Federal charges, which this guy avoided as part of the plea deal. At the state level, it’s up to the state and its laws. Through an attorney friend, I know for fact of at least one state where *any* crime, including murder, can be charged as a misdemeanor, even if it’s a felony on the books.

Never thought looking at pictures would carry a long sentence. On the other hand a picture is worth a thousand words; so they must include the conversations you had with a picture.

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