BOSTON – A former United States Postal Service (USPS) employee pleaded guilty today in federal court in Worcester to sexually exploiting a child, using USPS computers to access child pornography, and to possessing child pornography.
Stephen Mantha, 62, of Spencer, pleaded guilty to one count of producing child pornography, one count of accessing child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman scheduled sentencing for May 24, 2018.
In the summer of 2015, investigators from the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) were alerted to suspicious internet searches being conducted on a computer at a Shrewsbury postal facility where Mantha worked as an electronic technician. In August of 2015, agents installed a computer activity recorder, which tracked all computer usage on that computer terminal. Agents were then able to track and record searches, which revealed that Mantha’s search results included images of child pornography. Later, a video camera was installed, and between January and May 2016, agents both recorded and personally observed numerous occasions when Mantha used the USPS computer to conduct searches for, and then view, nude children, partially nude children and child pornography.
On Sept. 21, 2016, a search warrant was executed at Mantha’s residence where numerous thumb drives containing child pornography were recovered. During the review of the materials seized from Mantha’s home, a video was discovered, which had been recorded in approximately 2000 or 2001, depicting Mantha sexually assaulting an approximately seven-year-old boy. That same month, federal agents were able to locate and interview the boy (now an adult), who confirmed the sexual abuse.
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. 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 charges of accessing child pornography and possession of child pornography provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Eileen Neff, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Postal Service, Office of the Inspector General, Northeast Area Office; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Spencer Police Chief David Darrin; and Shrewsbury Police Chief James Hester Jr. made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Grady of Lelling’s Worcester Branch Office is prosecuting the case.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.