States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|June 16, 2011||
Operation Constant Vigilance:
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations office in Boston, announced that STEPHEN P. FESTA, 36, of Brooklyn, Connecticut, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford to one count of receipt and distribution of child pornography. During the proceeding, FESTA also pleaded guilty to violating the terms and conditions of his supervised release from a prior federal conviction for possession of child pornography.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on November 21, 2005, Judge Chatigny sentenced FESTA to 18 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for possessing child pornography videos, which had been delivered through the U.S. Mail to FESTA’s former residence in Jewett City, and images that were located on the hard drive of his home computer in July 2002.
FESTA was released from prison in June 2007.
On November 29, 2009, federal probation officers made an unannounced visit to FESTA’s residence on Christian Hill Road in Brooklyn pursuant to the terms of his supervision for the prior federal conviction. During the visit, while one probation officer was speaking with FESTA, a second probation officer heard a vibrating noise, looked toward the source of the sound and observed what he determined to be a cellular telephone on FESTA’s bedside table. One of the specific conditions of FESTA’s supervision required that “the defendant shall not use a computer, Internet-capable device, or similar electronic device to access child pornography or communicate with any individual or group for the purpose of promoting sexual relations with children.” The probation officer answered the phone and observed an incoming image depicting what he believed to be child pornography.
FESTA was taken into custody on that date and the cell phone was seized. Subsequent forensic analyisis of the phone revealed more than 500 images of child pornography.
Judge Chatigny has scheduled sentencing for September 6, 2011, at which time FESTA faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years. The penalties in this matter have been enhanced based on the defendant’s prior federal conviction. FESTA also faces a mandatory minimum period of five years of supervised release to a maximum of life, and a fine of up to $250,000.
FESTA has been detained since November 29, 2009.
This case was investigated by ICE Homeland Security Investigations in New Haven and Boston, the United States Probation Office and the Connecticut State Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Deborah R. Slater.
This prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative, and the District of Connecticut’s “Operation Constant Vigilance,” which are aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
To report cases of child exploitation, please visit www.cybertipline.com.
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Department of Justice
Project Safe Neighborhoods