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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — An airman assigned to the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron is to serve 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to wrongful possession of child pornography.

Staff Sgt. John Lazard also was given a dishonorable discharge and reduced in rank to airman basic during a May 31 court-martial.

He’s being transferred back to the United States to serve the jail term but Yokota officials said the exact location has yet to be determined.

“Unfortunately, the Internet affords people access to photographs of young children who have been victimized by sexual abuse,” said Lt. Col. Ronald Ratton, the 374th Airlift Wing’s staff judge advocate.

“Viewing such images is a crime that will be vigorously prosecuted in the Air Force.”

Capt. David Westover, a 374th Airlift Wing spokesman, said Lazard was pegged by a federal sting operation. U.S. agents, working in conjunction with the governments of France, Spain and Belarus, seized the business records of several Web sites found to contain child pornography.

They discovered that Lazard had used a credit card to join one of the sites under investigation, Westover said. In March 2004, Air Force Office of Special Investigations officials arrested him and seized his home computer.

“The computer forensics investigation took several months to complete, since it went through several offices at OSI and the FBI,” Westover said.

It revealed that Lazard had stored 300 images of child pornography among more than 30,000 other sexually explicit files, base officials said.

Capt. Ryan Lambrecht prosecuted the case, which the staff sergeant chose to have heard by a military judge instead of a general court-martial panel, according to Westover.

Col. Scott Goodwin, the 374th Airlift Wing commander, said Wednesday that harsh punishments would be pursued in such matters.

“This behavior will not be tolerated in our Air Force,” he added.

“The American taxpayers place great trust in our men and women. Out of respect for the 99 percent of our tremendous airmen who uphold our high standards daily, we will ensure that individuals in our community who cannot live by those same standards are held accountable.”


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