News and Press Releases

Robert James Lawton Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Monday, October 05, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Missoula on October 5, 2009, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, ROBERT JAMES LAWTON, a 53-year-old resident of Bozeman, pled guilty to receipt and possession of child pornography. Sentencing is set for January 15, 2010. He is currently released on special conditions.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia K. Hurd, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were investigating allegations of child pornography access by users utilizing the peer-to-peer file sharing network. One investigation involved a person in Bozeman who had child pornography available to share via a file sharing program beginning in 2008. The computer IP address was tracked to LAWTON'S residence in Bozeman.

On January 27, 2009, a search warrant was served at the residence. When questioned, LAWTON admitted that he used the peer-to-peer file sharing program Limewire to receive and possess child pornography videos and images. Agents seized various computer equipment and a subsequent forensic examination revealed images and movies of child pornography that LAWTON had received via the Internet from approximately 2005 through 2009 and still possessed on January 27, 2009, when the items were seized. LAWTON possessed images and movies of children clearly prepubescent and children engaged in sadistic or masochistic abuse or other depictions of violence.

LAWTON faces possible penalties of a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and could be sentenced to 20 years, a $250,000 fine and lifetime supervision.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Helena Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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