BURLINGTON — A notorious convicted Vermont sex offender, who was placed by a judge under lifetime supervision by the state probation office in 2006, is back behind bars on a federal charge of being in possession of child pornography.

Mark Hulett, 48, of Ferrisburgh, appeared briefly for an initial hearing in U.S. District Court in Burlington late Tuesday afternoon.

Federal Magistrate John M. Conroy agreed with the prosecution that Hulett, as a danger to the community, needed to be held without bail pending trial.

Conroy explained to Hulett he is charged with knowingly possessing pictures showing sexually explicit conduct by a minor.

A federal prosecutor argued it was necessary for Hulett to be held because the felony charge is classified as a crime of violence due to minors being the victims. Two boys and one girl were displayed in the photo, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Spencer Willig, who is helping Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara A. Masterson with the prosecution.

The Department of Homeland Security said it learned Hulett possessed the child pornography on Oct. 12, but did not obtain a federal search warrant until last Thursday, court records note. At about 6:05 a.m. Tuesday, investigators from Homeland Security and the Vermont Attorney General’s Office executed the warrant at the single-family residence on U.S. 7 that Hulett has shared with his mother for two years, records show.

Back in 2006, now retired State Judge Edward Cashman drew the wrath of a wide group of people, including national conservative commentators Bill O’Reilly from Fox and Nancy Grace from CNN, for what they perceived as a light prison sentence for Hulett in a sex case and improper remarks by the judge.

The personal attacks were based on a Vermont TV story that actually misquoted comments from Cashman at the sentencing, including he “did not believe in punishment.” O’Reilly called for a boycott of Vermont.

The personal attacks continued to roll in before the public began to learn the initial TV news report was false. What Cashman actually said was: “and I keep telling prosecutors, and they won’t hear me, that punishment is not enough,” according to a court transcript.

Former Associated Press Bureau Chief Chris Graff, in a January 2006 story printed in several newspapers, quoted the sentencing transcript showing Cashman’s actual comments.

The attacks had included then-Gov. Jim Douglas, legislators and other politicians calling on, among other things, Cashman to resign. Cashman stood firm. Soon former Chief Justice Jeff Amestoy and others came to Cashman’s defense once the court’s reasoning became known.

Cashman said he had imposed a minimum sentence of 60 days in prison as the only way to ensure the low-risk inmate would be able to get sex offender treatment, records show. Cashman also said he put Hulett on probation for life as a way to ensure any missteps would send him back to prison.

Until after the Hulett case, the Vermont Department of Corrections did not provide similar inmates with sex-offender treatment until they reached the end of their prison sentence. The department also thought Hulett was unlikely to re-offend.

As it turned out, Hulett never got out of prison until 2011.

His convictions were for two counts of aggravated sexual assault on a child and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct.

On Tuesday, assistant federal public defender Elizabeth Quinn said Hulett had remained out of trouble for eight years. Hulett works for Moose Rubbish and Recycling in Shoreham and also runs an eBay business, court records show.

Quinn, who asked that Hulett be released, questioned the level of evidence against her client. She argued that Hulett was found with only one improper image.

Quin also maintained it came from a nudist website.

“He didn’t think it was child pornography,” said Quinn, who noted her client was working fulltime.

A limited on-scene forensic preview of the computer failed to locate any files with child pornography, Homeland Security Investigator Caitlin Moynihan said in court papers.

Masterson, in her detention motion, noted, “Hulett’s inability to abide by the conditions of his release strongly suggests that they are no conditions which will ensure he appears as required, and that he will not cause additional harm to the community.”

The case began with a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in October. Detective Matt Raymond applied for a subpoena for Comcast to learn about the computer subscriber, court records show. The record showed it belonged to Hulett’s mother.

Conroy said he believes the case is serious and the evidence appears “exceedingly strong.”

He told Hulett he was entitled to a hearing on whether the government had probable cause to charge him May 24.

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