Former Danville Scout lead pleads not guilty in pornography indictment

Charges moved from Superior Court to federal court where penalties are greater

The former leader of a Cub Scout den in Danville pleaded not guilty in federal court in Oakland Friday to two child pornography charges, according to a spokesman for federal prosecutors.

Michael Vawter, 40, of San Ramon, was indicted earlier this week by a federal grand jury on one count of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography, U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Jack Gillund said.

Gillund said that after entering a not-guilty plea to those charges, Vawter was ordered by U.S. Magistrate Donna Ryu to return to her courtroom on Wednesday for a hearing on whether he should be granted release on bail while awaiting trial.

Gillund said that if Vawter is convicted, the charge of receiving child pornography carries a minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a maximum of 20 years. The possession charge has a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Vawter was arrested by the FBI Thursday morning in the parking lot of the Contra Costa County Superior Court courthouse in Walnut Creek, according to Deputy Contra Costa County District Attorney Dana Filkowski.

Filkowski said Vawter was arriving at the county courthouse for a session to schedule a preliminary hearing on a state court charge of possessing child pornography.

Filkowski said that after Vawter was arrested, she obtained dismissal of the state charge in Superior Court "in the interests of justice," since Vawter will now be federally prosecuted for the same alleged conduct.

He faces more time in federal prison if convicted, Filkowski said. The now-dismissed state charge carried a maximum sentence of three years in prison, she said.

Vawter, a former executive with CCI Financial and Insurance Services in San Ramon, was originally arrested by San Ramon police in March and was formally charged in Superior Court in May with the state count of possession of child pornography.

Deputy District Attorney Jon Yamaguchi said at the time that police allegedly found 187 pornographic videos on his computer.

Police said they had received an anonymous tip that Vawter had pornography images on his office computer.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marie
a resident of Danville
on Oct 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm

God bless his wife & children!

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Missy
a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on Oct 18, 2010 at 3:58 pm

And God bless all of the children who are hurt by such unspeakable behavior.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by MyTwoCents
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 18, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I'll acknowledge that early media reports make it look bad for this guy, in terms of his likely guilt-or-innocence.

That said, between this thread and the one about the latter-day Artie Johnson taking photos in the park, I seem to detect a certain "torches and pitchforks" mentality in these parts.

Reserving judgment is not inconsistent with vigilance, but it IS inconsistent with vigilantism. May we please all remember that our beloved Republic is founded on the basis of "Innocence, Until Proven Guilty?"

 +   Like this comment
Posted by TJ
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 23, 2010 at 7:05 pm

The reason the State dropped it's charges and the Feds arrested Vawter on the steps of the court house is because they have a case that will place him behind bars longer. The systems work together, in concert if you will, all in the name of protecting children and punishing the criminal with longer sentences.

No need to feel the need to defend such a person "MyTwoCents". If you did the same, i would hope they would throw the book at you as well.

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