BURLINGTON — The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont has dropped a felony child pornography charge that would have required a now former high-ranking Vermont Air National Guardsman to serve at least a 5-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence.

Instead, now-retired Maj. Scott Brochu, 48, of Shelburne, has agreed to plead guilty in state court to a misdemeanor child porn count. The state plea agreement calls for a suspended 6-to-12-month sentence and Brochu placed on probation for two years.

Vermont Superior Court Judge Martin Maley recently ordered a pre-sentence investigation report on Brochu, who will be required to register on the state’s sex offender list, court records show. No date for sentencing has been set.

Brochu, who was the logistics readiness officer for the Vermont Air National Guard, has agreed to surrender multiple computers that were seized when U.S. Homeland Security Investigation agents raided his home on May 16, 2019. He also faces $147 in court costs when sentenced under the plea agreement reached with the office of Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan.

Defense lawyer Brooks McArthur of Burlington said he thought the disposition was an appropriate outcome.

“The evidence supported a state misdemeanor,” said McArthur, a former state prosecutor. He said the federal case was due to go on trial next week.

It is unclear why federal prosecutors recently stopped pursuing the two-count indictment with the mandatory prison sentence. They had claimed it was a major case following Brochu’s arrest outside his then-residence at 50 Brigham Hill Road in Essex in June 2019.

Brochu was one of about a dozen defendants charged in federal or state court after a joint investigation by Homeland Security and the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan had noted at the time Brochu was charged with possessing child pornography between 2011 and about May 16, 2019 and with unlawfully transporting across state lines child pornography that showed a minor engaging in explicit sexual conduct on Feb. 23, 2019.

She reported Brochu, if convicted, faced between a mandatory minimum 5 years and up to 20 years in prison on the transportation charge. He could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison on the possession case had he been convicted.

Nolan did not respond to phone and text messages about dropping the charges. Attempts to reach the lead federal prosecutor in the case, Jonathan Ophardt, was unsuccessful as well.

After Brochu’s arrest, Federal Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy agreed to release him on conditions, including he could have limited access to computers and other devices.

Brochu is a graduate of South Burlington High School and Johnson State College. He is a second-generation air guardsman — having joined in 1992.

Attempts to reach Adj. Gen. Greg Knight were unsuccessful. An Air Guard spokesman said Friday that Brochu is no longer a fulltime employee but was unsure of his departure date or how it came about — as a resignation or guard action.

As a term of his state probation, Brochu will have to successfully enroll in and complete a sex offender treatment program and pay for it himself, records show.

The agreement also requires Brochu to refrain from volunteering or hanging out in places where children congregate, including schools, parks and playgrounds, unless approved in advance by his state probation officer.

Brochu is prohibited from owning or possessing a computer at home and may not access the internet at work or elsewhere while on probation.

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