You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Five Receive Awards from U.S. Attorney General

Three Prosecutors and Two FBI Special Agents Receive U.S. Department of Justice Awards for St. Lawrence County Kidnaping Case

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Three Assistant United States Attorneys for the Northern District of New York and two Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the District were honored today in our nation’s capital for their distinguished public service. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch recognized 376 Department of Justice employees and 47 others (from outside DOJ) for their distinguished public service today at the 64th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C.  This annual ceremony recognizes individuals for their outstanding service and dedication to carrying out the missions of the Department of Justice.


Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven D. Clymer, Lisa M. Fletcher, and Tamara B. Thomson, and FBI Special Agents Frederick E. Bragg and Alix Skelton received Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Awards for their work on the investigation and prosecution of Stephen M. Howells, II, 40, and Nicole F. Vaisey, 26, both of Hermon, New York, in connection with their 2014 kidnapping and exploitation of two young Amish girls in St. Lawrence County. 


“The Attorney General’s Awards provide us with a rare opportunity to honor the efforts of outstanding department employees and our invaluable partners across the federal government and at the state and local levels,” said Attorney General Lynch.  “Their work has made our nation – and our world – stronger, safer and more just, and I am proud of and inspired by each and every one of them.”


“I am extremely proud that this team of federal prosecutors and FBI Special Agents are being honored for their outstanding work in bringing these depraved predators to justice. Howells and Vaisey drugged and sexually exploited young children, some of whom had been entrusted to their care and others that they abducted, sexually abused, and imprisoned. The lengthy sentences imposed in this case will ensure that no other children will ever be victimized by these defendants, who will remain incarcerated for the rest of their lives. This is the direct result of the work of these five dedicated professionals,” said United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian.


Howells and Vaisey were arrested in August of 2014 following a massive manhunt and search in St. Lawrence County, New York after two young Amish girls were abducted from a roadside vegetable stand at their family farm. Howells and Vaisey lured the girls into a car, then abducted them. After drugging and abusing the girls, as well as filming and photographing them, Howells and Vaisey allowed them to be released and they went a nearby house. Following the arrest of Howells and Vaisey on August 15, 2014, the execution of a federal search warrant at their residence located drugs used on the two girls, video and photographic equipment, computers and electronic media containing child pornography. A forensic review of these items located evidence that the pair had abused and exploited four other minor victims who were the children of friends and relatives of Howells and Vaisey. Searches of computers possessed by Howells and Vaisey revealed thousands of images and videos of child pornography downloaded and collected by Howells from the internet and representing the exploitation of hundreds of additional children, including infants and toddlers.


Both Vaisey and Howells pled guilty in May 2015 to a superseding indictment alleging that they conspired to sexually exploit minors and exploiting minors (Nicole F. Vaisey-nine counts involving the exploitation of four minor victims) (Stephen M. Howells, II-fifteen counts involving the exploitation of six minor victims).  Howells also pled guilty to five counts of possession of material that contains child pornography. In November 2015 Howells was sentenced to serve 580 years in prison and Nicole F. Vaisey was sentenced to serve 300 years in prison for these crimes.

Office and Personnel Updates
Updated November 15, 2016