A former U.S. Postal Service technician caught accessing child pornography from government computers was sentenced in federal court Friday to 16 years in prison for related sex crimes.
Stephen Mantha, 64, was sentenced to 196 months imprisonment and fined $250,000 during a hearing held before U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman in Worcester, Massachusetts, the Department of Justice announced afterwards.
A resident of nearby Spencer, Mass., Mantha became the subject of a federal investigation after the USPS Office of Inspector General was notified in 2015 of suspicious internet searches being conducted from a computer located inside a postal facility in the town of Shewsbury where he worked as a technician, according to prosecutors.
Investigators subsequently installed video surveillance cameras and computer monitoring software at the facility that allowed authorities to determine that Mantha had used postal service computers to access and view child pornography, prosecutors wrote in court filings.
Authorities later discovered child porn stored on several thumb drives seized during a search warrant of Mantha’s residence, including digital video footage recorded more than a decade earlier of Mantha sexually abusing a boy, according to prosecutors. Investigators were able to identify the victim and interview him as an adult, and he told police that Mantha abused him when he was between the ages of 6 and 8, prosecutors wrote in court filings.
Mantha pleaded guilty in February to one count of producing child pornography, one count of accessing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.
“In 2000 and 2001, the date of the offense, the charge of sexual exploitation of a child provided for a mandatory minimum of 10 years and no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000,” the Justice Department said in a statement announcing Mantha’s sentencing.
“Although existing penalties for producing child pornography are substantially higher, the Constitution prohibits the government from subjecting individuals to more stringent penalties adopted after their crimes had been committed,” the statement said.
A defense attorney representing Mantha in the case did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The case against Mantha was hardly the only brought recently against government workers charged with crimes involving child pornography.
Skydance MacMahon, a former State Department employee, pleaded guilty on July 2 to producing child porn, and an administrative officer for the Federal Aviation Administration was arrested roughly two weeks later in a separate case and accused of using his FAA-issued laptop to access sexually explicit images and videos of children.