Feds charge Bristol man with child pornography
BRISTOL — A 26-year-old Bristol man on Friday pleaded not guilty to a federal charge of making child pornography following a raid at his home.
Cody Clark, who resides at the Kountry Trailer Park, was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Burlington on a charge of enticing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of allowing the defendant to produce a visual depiction. The indictment alleged that the conduct happened between Jan. 21, 2014, and Sept. 2, the day the federal authorities conducted a court-ordered search at his trailer, records show.
Clark faces a mandatory minimum 15-year prison sentence, if convicted, Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Masterson said in court papers. She wants him detained while awaiting trial on grounds that he is both a danger to the community and a risk to flee. Masterson said she also is concerned about Clark being around children.
At the Friday hearing, Clark’s defense attorney did not contest his detention, though that could be appealed later.
Masterson said Clark has been investigated at least two times — in 2008 in Vermont and 2014 in nearby Essex County, N.Y. — but there were no criminal prosecutions.
Clark, who also operates Life in the Moment Photography, was the subject of another investigation recently by the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, court records show.
DHS Special Agent Michael McCullagh said the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provided a tip that led to 18 suspected child pornography images, records show.
During the Sept. 2 raid, investigators found images of child pornography on Clark’s computer, officials said.
After the raid, Clark admitted to investigators that he had taken naked photos of at least two boys and described them as “inappropriate,” McCullagh wrote in a court affidavit. “He used these for sexual gratification,” wrote McCullagh, a former Winooski police officer.
Clark had his initial appearance in U.S. District Court to hear the criminal complaint against him this past Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 5; the court also considered his release. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy agreed to continue the detention portion of the hearing until Friday afternoon at the request of the prosecution. Clark was returned to the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans by the U.S. Marshals Service.
By Thursday afternoon a federal grand jury, after hearing details of the case, formally indicted Clark on the felony count.
Masterson, the prosecutor, said it was unclear why the two earlier investigations never resulted in convictions, but in this case the evidence is solid.
“This time, however, the evidence is extremely strong against Clark,” she wrote in her detention motion. She noted three of the boys used to produce the pornographic images have been identified.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office said the investigation into Clark began when Google sent a “Cybertip” to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that the user of one of its platforms had uploaded images of child pornography. The center forwarded the Cybertip to the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), which conducted further investigation into Clark, the suspected user of the Google account.
Acting U.S. Attorney Eugenia Cowles commended the efforts of the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, University of Vermont Police Services, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.
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