Former #Stillwater #mayor pleads #guilty to #child porn #charges

BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. >> Former Stillwater Mayor Rick Nelson faces from five to 15 years in state prison after pleading guilty Thursday to five felony child pornography charges.

Nelson pleaded guilty to knowingly having in his possession and control, and to knowingly accessing with intent to view, images containing sexual conduct by a child under 16 last August in Stillwater.

He resigned as mayor shortly after his Aug. 31 arrest.

Nelson pleaded guilty in Saratoga County Court before Judge James Murphy III. Sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on June 19.

Nelson is expected to be sentenced to from one to three years for each of the five counts, running consecutively, meaning he will be incarcerated for from five to 15 years.

Also, upon release he will have to register as a sex offender.

In January, Nelson pleaded not guilty to charges in an indictment handed down by a Saratoga County grand jury. He was indicted on seven counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child, a class D felony, and 16 counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child, a class E felony.

The five counts he pled guilty to Thursday are E felonies.

The investigation began after troopers in the state police Computer Crimes Unit became aware that an Internet Protocol (IP) address in Stillwater had downloaded photographs depicting child pornography, prompting police to seize Nelson’s computer.

Police have said there is no indication the activity occurred on Village of Stillwater property.

In addition to the Computer Crimes Unit, the case was investigated by the state police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Forensic Investigation Center and Saratoga Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

“The efforts by law enforcement in this case are to be commended,” said Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen. “They worked tirelessly to unearth the significant evidence in this case that resulted in the plea today.”

Nelson’s son, Patrick, is a Democratic candidate for congress, seeking his party’s nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro. On Tuesday, he delivered the more than 1,250 petition signatures required to take part in a June 26 primary.

“I condemn my father’s crimes and I welcome all who would join me in condemning his crimes,” Patrick Nelson said Thursday. “Making this a political issue belittles and devalues the victims of these crimes. The focus should be on the work that remains to be done to ensure that all children, and indeed all people, are protected from exploitation of all kinds.”