ALBURGH, VERMONT – The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Randy Sheltra, 58, of Alburgh, Vermont, was convicted on December 11, 2020, in United States District Court in Burlington, Vermont, following a six-day trial by jury, of two counts of attempting to persuade, induce, and entice a minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity, and one count of attempted receipt of child pornography. U.S. District Judge Christina Reiss ordered Sheltra to remain in custody after the jury returned its verdict.
United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan stated: “I applaud those who worked tirelessly to secure the conviction of Sheltra, a man who preyed on children. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to prioritize prosecution of child exploitation crimes and we will continue to do all we can to protect the innocent and vulnerable, working with our law enforcement partners. Thank you to our talented, hardworking Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barbara Masterson and Andrew Gilman, who prosecuted the case, to our office staff who supported them, and to our outstanding law enforcement partners in Homeland Security Investigations and the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for investigating the case in strong collaboration.”
According to court records and proceedings, on September 7, 2017, Sheltra began communicating with whom he thought was the mother of a 10-year-old girl after she responded to an ad he posted on Craigslist. In reality, the woman was an undercover law enforcement officer. During communications between Sheltra and the undercover officer over the following three days, Sheltra attempted to persuade the woman to permit her 10-year-old daughter to engage in sexual activity with her and Sheltra. On September 10, 2017, when Sheltra showed up at a park in South Burlington to meet with whom he thought was the woman and her daughter for sexual activity, he was arrested by law enforcement. During a search of his person at the time of his arrest, law enforcement recovered Sheltra’s cell phone. In it, law enforcement discovered that in August 2017, Sheltra had attempted to persuade a real 15-year-old girl who lived in Vermont to engage in sexual activity with him. In fact, Sheltra met this 15-year-old girl and engaged in sexual activity with her. Sheltra also asked the 15-year-old girl on two separate occasions to send sexually explicit photos of her genitalia to him.
U.S. Attorney Nolan commended the efforts of Homeland Security Investigations and the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in the investigation and prosecution of Sheltra. The prosecution of Sheltra was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barbara A. Masterson and Andrew C. Gilman. Sheltra was represented by Mark Kaplan of Kaplan & Kaplan.
Sheltra faces a sentence of not less than 10 years, and up to a lifetime term of incarceration, followed by not less than five (5) years, and up to a lifetime term, of supervised release, restitution, a possible fine, and a $300 mandatory special assessment. Sheltra’s sentence will be determined by the sentencing judge after consultation with the United States Sentencing Guidelines and the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).
U.S. Attorney Nolan noted that this prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.