(Anchorage, AK) – Former Alaska State Trooper Vance Peronto was convicted Friday of one count of attempted abuse of a minor in the second degree. The trial lasted a little over two weeks, and the jury deliberated for approximately two and a half days before returning a guilty verdict. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on two counts of possession of child pornography. Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson presided over the trial in Anchorage.
A sentencing date is forthcoming. At sentencing, Peronto will face between two and 12 years in custody. His mandatory minimum sentence, absent referral to a three-judge panel or mitigation, is four years with two years suspended, followed by five years of probation.
This case began when Alaska State Troopers, AST, was notified on April 26, 2018, that Peronto, a 16-year veteran of AST, may have had inappropriate contact with a minor. Investigators learned that on April 8, 2018, Peronto conducted a traffic stop of a 16-year-old female for driving without her headlights illuminated. No citation was issued. Peronto subsequently contacted the 16-year-old via social media and began establishing a social relationship.
AST Investigators obtained consent from the 16-year-old and her family to retrieve electronic evidence pertinent to the case. On April 29, 2018, Peronto attempted to rendezvous with the female at a hotel in Anchorage but was instead contacted by members of AST with the assistance of the Anchorage Police Department.
The evidence presented at trial established that Peronto took a substantial step toward engaging in sexual penetration with a 16-year-old minor while occupying a position of authority in relation to the minor.
“The Alaska State Troopers cannot allow anyone, especially a law enforcement officer, to abuse their power and violate the trust of the community as Vance Peronto did. The prosecution of this former State Trooper sends a clear message that no one is above the law, and we will not tolerate any criminal activity within our ranks,” stated Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell. “I would like to thank the prosecutors and investigators who worked diligently over multiple years on this investigation and prosecution. I would also like to acknowledge the juvenile victim and recognize the pain and suffering that she has undergone, as a result of Peronto’s actions.”
The Alaska State Trooper Alaska Bureau of Investigation Technical Crimes Unit conducted the investigation with assistance from the Soldotna Major Crimes Unit, Digital Forensics Lab, and Anchorage Police Department.
CONTACT: Chris Darnall, Assistant Attorney General, with the Office of Special Prosecutions at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 269-6250.
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