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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Vermont

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 24, 2015

St. Johnsbury Man Sentenced To Prison For Child Pornography Offense

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Jose Bruzual, 51, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, was sentenced on February 23, 2015, in United States District Court in Burlington, Vermont, to serve 30-months imprisonment and a five-year period of supervised release following his conviction on one count of possession of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B).  Judge William K. Sessions III also ordered Bruzual to pay a $100 special assessment.

According to court records and proceedings, in the fall of 2013, law enforcement was conducting undercover investigation into the use of file-sharing programs on the Internet to trade child pornography.  It discovered that a computer with an IP address later associated with Bruzual had images of child pornography on it.  Bruzual was then a teacher at St. Johnsbury Academy and a dorm proctor.  On November 21, 2013, law enforcement executed a warrant to search Bruzual’s residence and computers, and discovered more than 1,000 still images and hundreds of videos of child pornography.  Bruzual was taken into custody and later fired by St. Johnsbury Academy.  Bruzual’s collection included sadistic and masochistic material.  Among the images of child pornography found in Bruzual’s collection were images in which Bruzual had altered photographs of the victim child to feature the faces of known little girls. 

The government advocated for a sentence of 78 months, which was at the low-end of the advisory Sentencing Guidelines range.  In rejecting the government’s recommended sentence and granting the defendant’s request for a variance, Judge Sessions noted that at the time it was seized by law enforcement, Bruzual’s computer had the “share function” turned off, meaning that images of child pornography could not be uploaded by other offenders from his computer.  Judge Sessions also noted that Bruzual had no prior criminal record, he is likely to be deported as he is a Venezuelan citizen, he will not receive treatment in prison because he will likely be deported, and the advisory Guideline for child pornography offenses can lead to excessive sentences.  Based on the foregoing, Judge Sessions granted the requested variance and reduced Bruzual’s sentence from the 78-month sentence called for by the advisory Guidelines to 30-months. 

Acting United States Attorney Eugenia A.P. Cowles commended the efforts of Homeland Security Investigations and investigators with the Vermont Attorney General’s Office in the investigation and prosecution of Bruzual.  The prosecution of Bruzual was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara A. Masterson.  Bruzual was represented by David L. McColgin. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Cowles 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, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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Updated June 22, 2015