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Press Release

West Point Cadet Sentenced To More Than Eight Years In Prison For Distributing, Receiving, And Possessing Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that RICKY PATRICK HESTER was sentenced to 97 months’ in prison by United States District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti for receipt, distribution, and possession of child pornography.  The sentencing today followed HESTER’s conviction on June 23, 2015, following a jury trial before Judge Briccetti. 

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “Ricky Patrick Hester collected, shared, and distributed appalling depictions of children being sexually abused.  This case reinforces the need for law enforcement to remain vigilant in its efforts to protect children from those who prey on them.”

According to the Indictment and the evidence at trial:

From at least as early as November 2012, HESTER used a Yahoo! email account, a file-sharing account on Dropbox.com, as well as his personal cellphone, to collect and share images of children being forced into sexual activity. 

On December 18, 2013, HESTER was interviewed by agents with Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) and he admitted that he had used his Yahoo! email account to send child pornography, that his preference was for boys as young as four years old, that he had used Dropbox to trade child pornography with others, and that he stored child pornography on his cellphone.

HESTER’s cellphone, which was seized by HSI on December 18, 2013, during a search warrant of HESTER’s dorm room at West Point, contained approximately 1,200 images and videos of children engaging in sexual activity.

Evidence at trial included approximately 100 emails sent or received by HESTER.  In many of these emails, HESTER requested videos and images of “kids being forced to do stuff,” “boys being tied up and peed on,” and “man boy hardcore.”  In numerous emails, he indicated a preference for boys aged four to 10 years old.

HESTER entered the United States Military Academy at West Point as a cadet in August 2009.  He took a sabbatical from West Point from August 2011 through August 2012.  He returned to West Point in the fall of 2012.  At the time of his arrest, on December 19, 2013, HESTER was one semester away from graduation.

HESTER, 25, lived in Granger, Indiana, from his arrest until his conviction.  Judge Briccetti remanded him following his conviction.  In sentencing HESTER, Judge Briccetti underscored that the “evidence of guilt was overwhelming,” and that the images that HESTER possessed and traded depicted “the torture of children.”

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Department of Homeland Security.  He also thanked the Army Criminal Investigation Command for their assistance with the investigation.

This prosecution is being handled by the White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Lauren Schorr and Marcia S. Cohen are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated January 6, 2016

Press Release Number: 16-002