West Topsham Man Sentenced to Seventy Months for Receiving Child Pornography
Burlington, VT – The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, stated that on January 7, 2013, Foster E. Phelps, 39, was sentenced to serve 70 months in federal prison after he pled guilty to receiving child pornography over the Internet. U.S. District Court Judge William K. Sessions III also ordered Phelps, who is from West Topsham, Vermont, to serve five years of supervised release following his prison term.
Phelps faced up to a life term in prison. Judge Sessions determined that the appropriate range under the advisory sentencing guidelines was 70-87 months in prison. In sentencing Phelps to a 70-month term, Judge Sessions considered, among other factors, Phelps' post-arrest efforts at addressing his alcoholism. Judge Sessions also emphasized the grave harm caused by child pornography offenses.
According to court records, Phelps came to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2011 because he was participating in an Internet message board dedicated to the exchange of child pornography. In the summer and fall of 2011 Phelps posted text messages on the message board in response to images of child pornography provided by other participants. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Vermont State Police executed a search warrant at Phelps' West Topsham residence on February 2, 2012. While executing the warrant, agents found over a thousand compact discs and floppy discs many of which contained images of prepubescent children being sexually abused.
United States Attorney Coffin commended the efforts of the FBI and the Vermont State Police for their work in this case. The prosecutor is Assistant United States Attorney Timothy C. Doherty, Jr. The defendant is represented by David McColgin from the Federal Public Defender's Office.
The United States Attorney noted that this prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorney's Offices and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.