BRATTLEBORO -- An employee of the Bellows Falls/Rockingham Public Works Department was arrested June 28 for felony level possession and promotion of child pornography.
Daniel Gay, 41, of Springfield, was charged with three counts of promoting a recording of an underaged individual and four counts of possession of child pornography. He was charged in Vermont Superior Court Windsor Criminal Division on June 28 and released on an unsecured $100,000 appearance bond after pleading not guilty to the charges.
Gay’s arrest was a result of a shared investigation between the Vermont Attorney General’s Office and Vermont’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
According to an affidavit filed in court, Gay came to the attention of investigators on March 20 during a review of a peer-to-peer file sharing network that has been used to share child pornography.
Det. Matthew Raymond, an investigator for the task force, was able to download child pornography video recordings from an IP address later identified as belonging to Gay. The recordings depicted adults engaging in sexual acts with children ranging between 5 years old and 10 years old.
On April 29 and June 11, Raymond downloaded a number of other child pornography videos from Gay’s IP address, all of them containing acts similar to those in the videos downloaded on March 20.
On June 25, Raymond was granted and served a search warrant on Gay’s home at 79.5 Elm Hill Street in Springfield. Gay’s wife, who is also an employee of Bellows Falls/Rockingham, denied to Raymond any knowledge of child pornography or of ever using peer-to-peer sharing networks.
A short time later, Gay returned from work to his home where he was met by investigators.
After being told he was not under arrest and did not have to speak with them, Gay disclosed he had less than 50 files of child pornography on his desktop computer. He also told investigators that the youngest child depicted in the files was between 3 and 4 years old. Gay then disclosed that he had thumb drives with tens of thousands of images of child pornography.
In addition to seizing Gay’s computers and thumb drives, investigators seized "boxes of female mannequins which appeared to be teen aged ..."
According to the Attorney General’s Office, there is no evidence Gay himself produced any of the child pornography he downloaded and shared on the Internet.
Prior to working for Bellows Falls/Rockingham, Gay was employed with the Vermont Department of Corrections and the U.S. Postal Service. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 50 years in prison.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont, no federal charges have been filed against Gay at this time.
Recently, Attorney General Bill Sorrell asked the Vermont Legislature to fund an attorney and a full-time investigator to assist the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The Legislature did not fund the attorney’s position, but did fund the full-time investigator. It also agreed to fund a forensics specialist, tasked with investigating computers and other electronic devices in support of the task force.
"The AGO was involved in these types of cases prior to December of 2012, but we did not have an investigator dedicated to this specialized work, which resulted in our request to the Legislature," noted Cindy Maguire, assistant attorney general, in an e-mail to the Reformer. "In fact, prior to December of 2012, no state level law enforcement agency had the capacity to dedicate even a half-time position to proactively investigate individuals who share known child pornography over the Internet."
Because the nature of the work can have a mental and emotional toll on investigators, the AG’s office splits the work between two investigators, she said.
"It’s pretty difficult work to do," Maguire told the Reformer.
Both investigators have received approximately 300 hours of specialized training on file sharing, child exploitation, and computer forensics.
"One of our investigators is funded by the appropriation from the Legislature, and our second investigator was a standing position, funded with general funds," said Maguire.
The task force has been very active since the Legislature agreed to fund the investigator, she said.
"We’ve had no shortage of cases," said Maguire. "Some of the stuff these folks are watching ... I don’t know how they can do it."
Since December of 2012 the AG’s office has charged five individuals as a result of ICAC investigations, wrote Maguire.
Two of the cases have since been dismissed by the state and are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office: David Gallagher and Kevin Faulkner, both of Burlington, were each charged in February 2013 with four counts of possession of child pornography.
"We have regular contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to discuss which cases are appropriate for state or federal prosecution," said Maguire.
On April 26, 35-year-old Mechenna Ford, of Milton, was charged with aggravated sexual assault and repeated nonconsensual acts on a child under the age of 16. According to court documents, Ford recorded the acts and uploaded them to an on-line image hosting site. Ford pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail pending trial. Maguire wrote that he is expected to be arraigned on additional charges later this month.
In December 2012, Homer Smith, of Northfield, was charged with five counts of possession of child pornography. He has been released on conditions pending a trial.
Maguire told the Reformer that the ICAC Task Force is federally funded, about $242,000 for 18 months.
"The ICAC grant covers training, equipment, overtime and portions of some salaries for ICAC members, but not AGO investigators, except for overtime," she said. "The Burlington Police Department operates as the grantee/administrator of the ICAC funds."