A man who pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence of four to 10 years with five years of supervised probation, during a hearing in Natrona County District Court on Friday.

James D. Simpson, Jr., heard the sentence from Judge Daniel Forgey, who agreed with the plea deal in October that included the dismissal of three similar counts.

As part of his supervised probation, Forgey ordered Simpson to receive sex offender treatment, perform 200 hours of community service, have no contact with children under 17, and not access pornography.

After the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri said Simpson would register as a sex offender.

The case started on March 5 when a person called Casper police and reported he found a USB drive containing child pornography when he was at the Wyoming Medical Center three days earlier and, as he left the hospital, found the drive in the parking garage.

The caller picked up the USB drive and wanted to return it to its owner. He forgot about it, found it three days later, and plugged it into his computer to see if he could find anything to identify the owner.

Instead, he saw multiple files containing child pornography and called authorities.

Special agents of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation found that the USB drive contained 129 image files and five videos of suspected child pornography. At least 11 of the files depicted victims who had previously been identified through law enforcement investigations.

Agents were able to review files that had been deleted from the flash drive and found high school senior photographs, which contained embedded data. That data told agents the photos had been taken by a photographer in Converse County.

Agents found a website for the photographer, and also found an album with the same high school senior photos recovered from the flash drive.

Agents interviewed the person who appeared in the those photos and determined the likely suspect was Simpson, who was at the hospital with his wife on March 2.

Investigators confronted Simpson at his home, he initially denied possessing the USB drive or any child pornography, but later admitted it belonged to him.

"It's stuff that over years that I have collected because I thought they were cute and it's nothing that leaves the house, I am not a predator, I am never anywhere," Simpson told them. He said the flash drive was several years old.

Simpson said he never thought law enforcement would contact him regarding the files. He reportedly compared possessing child pornography to possessing a "dirty magazine."

He told agents that he would seek out children between 12 and 15 years of age, in part because he thought they looked pretty.

The government regards child pornography as a crime of violence because it involves sometimes brutal assaults on very young children who cannot give consent to sexual activity.

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