A man from the Casper area could face between five years and 40 years imprisonment for receiving and and possessing child pornography after he pleaded guilty to the two crimes during a change of plea hearing in federal court in Casper on Thursday.

As part of the plea agreement of Nathaniel Wayne Stratton, the government will dismiss a count attempted production of child pornography at his sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kubichek and federal Public Defender Traci Hucke said.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl said the court is not a party to the plea agreement, and the sentence could vary depending on the recommendation of the presentence investigation.

"The ultimate determination won't be made until the day of sentencing," Skavdahl said. He set the sentencing date for Feb. 7.

During the change of plea hearing, the judge read the charges against Stratton, which were outlined in the indictment handed down by the grand jury:

From Oct. 1, 2021, through July 13, 2022, Stratton knowingly received child pornography through the internet and cellular telephone networks. The penalties for receipt of child pornography include five years to 20 years imprisonment; up to a $250,000 fine; five years to life supervised release after release from prison; and up to $17,000 special assessment and mandatory restitution of not less than $3,000 per requesting victim pursuant to the Amy, Vicky and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2018.

On July 13, Stratton knowingly possessed images of child pornography that had been transmitted through the internet and cellular telephone networks. The penalties for possession of child pornography include up to 20 years imprisonment; and the other penalties outlined in the previous count.

The potential penalties in Stratton's case could vary based on federal sentencing guidelines which factor a defendant's criminal history and the seriousness of the crime.

While his criminal history was rated a 1, the offense level was 32, Skavdahl said.

Besides the high offense level, other factors were added including child pornography involving children under 12, the sex acts portrayed in the images, distribution and sadistic conduct, the judge said. (The factor of using a computer is disregarded because child pornography crimes are committed with computers.)

That offense level of 41 would result in a sentencing range of 27 years to nearly 34 years imprisonment, and that is beyond the maximum imprisonment of 20 years for each of the two counts.

Kubichek and Hucke held a sidebar with Skavdahl, and the judge then told Stratton that the punishment for the two counts could run consecutively for a total of 40 years.

Skavdahl also said that the federal government has abolished parole, so Stratton would not be released early.

After Stratton entered his guilty pleas, Hucke read the charges and he answered that he did commit those crimes.

He remains in custody.

Federal court records did not have any details about the investigation that led to Stratton's arrest and charges.

The government regards child pornography as a crime of violence because it involves brutal assaults on very young children who cannot give consent to sexual activity.

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