The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that on January 16, 2020, Mark Hulett, 48, of Ferrisburgh, Vermont, was sentenced in United States District Court in Rutland to serve 120 months in prison after his guilty plea to one count of possession of child pornography. Chief U.S. District Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford also ordered Hulett to serve a ten-year term of supervised release, and to pay a $100 special assessment.
According to court records, the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received a CyberTip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which reported that a file depicting child pornography had been uploaded to an Internet search engine. Subsequent investigation of the CyberTip revealed that the file had been uploaded from Hulett’s residence in Ferrisburgh. On May 14, 2019, members of law enforcement executed a search warrant at that residence and recovered Hulett’s computer and phone. A forensic search of those devices revealed that Hulett possessed over 2,000 images of child pornography, including images depicting prepubescent minor children.
Hulett was previously convicted in 2005, in Vermont Superior Court, of aggravated sexual assault and lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.
U.S. Attorney Nolan commended the efforts of the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barbara A. Masterson and Spencer Willig handled the prosecution of Hulett. Assistant Federal Public Defender David L. McColgin represented Hulett.
U.S. Attorney Nolan 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.justice.gov/psc.
U.S. Attorney Christina E. Nolan and Vermont Attorney General T. J. Donovan announced today that eight men were arrested in mid-May for possession/promotion of child pornography. The arrests were made as a result of Operation Bada Bing. Operation Bada Bing, which was conducted by Vermont’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (VT-ICAC) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), involved executing search warrants on several residences during the week of May 13, 2019, based on CyberTips that were received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. These CyberTips are typically generated by Internet Service Providers or social media platforms whenever they detect suspected child sexual exploitation material on their networks. These CyberTips are in turn sent to local ICAC task forces throughout the country.
Operation Bada Bing culminated in the arrests of the following individuals:
Frank Farley, 37, of Rutland.
Russell Biathrow, 61, of Killington.
Mark Hulett, 48, of Ferrisburgh.
Uriah Shows, 29, of Middlebury.
Bernard Tinker, 58, of Colchester.
Richard Weston, 25, of Huntington.
Louis Hamlin II, 74, of Huntington.
Sean Fiore, 35, of Burlington.
These individuals now face either federal or state charges for possession or promotion of child pornography. The Attorney General emphasizes that these individuals are legally presumed innocent of the charges until their guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt through the court process.
“Society should be judged by how it protects its most innocent and vulnerable members,” stated U.S. Attorney Christina E. Nolan for the District of Vermont. “Children are our future, and we will fight tirelessly for their safety. The announcement of a series of charges in a joint federal and state sweep reflects our commitment, as a Vermont law enforcement team, to bring serious charges and consequences to those who would harm and exploit children. I thank Attorney General Donovan for his leadership and strong partnership when it comes to protection of our youth. And I commend the Vermont ICAC and HSI for their exemplary cooperation and teamwork when it comes to combatting heinous child exploitation crimes and taking offenders against children out of Vermont communities.”
“ICAC plays a critical role in protecting children here in Vermont and elsewhere,” said Attorney General Donovan. “We need to continue to raise awareness and support ICAC’s mission so that all children – regardless of where they live – are not subject to violent exploitation.”
VT-ICAC was formed in 2008. The Vermont Attorney General’s Office assumed responsibility for managing VT-ICAC in October of 2015. Since October of 2015, VT-ICAC has performed 915 investigations, received 834 CyberTips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and arrested 125 individuals for crimes against children. VT-ICAC also works extensively to educate Vermont communities about internet safety. In the past three years, VT-ICAC conducted 2,032 educational forums around the state.
To assist in locating evidence as small as a micro sd card (a device as small as a fingernail), VT-ICAC obtained an electronic detection K9, named Mojo. Mojo, a yellow Labrador, is one of just a few of these dogs currently in use across the country. Mojo’s deployment has been successful; since January of last year he has been used at search warrants across the state and has led to the recovery of concealed evidence.
Operation Bada Bing was a collaborative effort involving the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, the Vermont State Police, Homeland Security Investigations, the Vermont U.S. Attorney’s Office, Burlington Police Department, South Burlington Police Department, Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and the University of Vermont Police Services.