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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Wisconsin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 6, 2020

Manitowoc County Man—Who Absconded from Extended Supervision on Vehicular Homicide Charges—is Sentenced to 20 years’ Imprisonment for Transporting a Minor Across State Lines to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity and Possessing Child Pornography

United States Attorney Matthew D. Krueger of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on February 4, 2020, U.S. District Judge William C. Griesbach sentenced Zachary S. Gauthier (age: 26) to a total sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and 20 years’ supervised release after Gauthier pled guilty to Transporting a Minor Across State Lines to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity and Possessing Child Pornography, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2423(a) and 2252A(a)(5)(B). The offense of transporting a minor began in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, and was therefore filed in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

The child pornography offense was committed in the Northern District of Alabama, and through the cooperative efforts of the respective United States Attorneys for each district, was consolidated for a guilty plea and sentencing in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

On August 6, 2018, a Manitowoc County resident reported to law enforcement that her 15-year-old granddaughter ran away from home. The Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department immediately investigated and, with subsequent assistance from the Manitowoc County District Attorney’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and United States Marshals Service, determined that Zachary S. Gauthier had met the granddaughter online and took her on a multi-state and weeks’ long trip ending in Parrish, Alabama. Gauthier had introduced himself to the grandmother using a fake name, representing that he wanted the granddaughter to babysit his young daughter. Then, throughout the cross-country trip and at a rented trailer in Alabama, Gauthier repeatedly sexually assaulted the granddaughter. He also knowingly searched for, downloaded, and possessed child pornography on his mobile phone in Alabama. Gauthier was arrested in Alabama by Deputy U.S. Marshals in early November 2018, after the granddaughter discovered child pornography on Gauthier’s phone.

Meanwhile, on August 10, 2018, the State of Wisconsin issued a warrant for Gauthier’s arrest because he absconded from extended supervision, which he was serving after being released from prison on two counts of negligent homicide by operation of a motor vehicle. Following his arrest in November 2018, Gauthier was extradited from Alabama to Wisconsin, his supervision was revoked, and he was ordered to serve another six years in state prison on the negligent homicide charges.

“Gauthier’s horrific crimes underscore the epidemic of child exploitation in our country,” said U.S. Attorney Krueger.  “I commend the excellent work of the Manitowoc Sheriff’s Office, the Manitowoc District Attorney’s Office, and our federal and state partners, from across the country, whose collaboration brought Gauthier to justice.  Predators like Gauthier should take note that decades in federal prison await them.”

“These crimes are detestable and our investigators and prosecutors will remain ever vigilant in protecting victims,” said U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, Northern District of Alabama.  “He will now spend the next 20 years in bed space reserved for him in a federal prison.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Hughes stated: “I commend the work of our FBI Child Exploitation Task Force. This case is a clear example that those who prey on children will get law enforcement’s full attention – federal, state and local.  “Child sex predators have no boundaries when targeting their victims and transporting them interstate.  However, collectively law enforcement has a very long reach and will pursue them wherever they run to ensure they are caught and brought to justice.”

“We would like to thank our numerous federal, state, and local law enforcement partners who assisted with the investigation and apprehension of Zachery Gauthier. Detective Bret Oswald was instrumental in his efforts to see this case through to a successful completion.” said Manitowoc County Sheriff Dan Hartwig

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Funnell. This case was investigated by the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, the Manitowoc County District Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Marshals Service.

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For Additional Information Contact:

Public Information Officer Kenneth Gales 414-297-1700

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Updated February 6, 2020