PITTSFIELD >> A city man who admitted to violating his probation conditions by contacting a 14-year-old girl on the internet has been sentenced to up to five years in state prison.
Timothy Pickard, who recently served prison time for similar behavior, was arrested in March after authorities found sexually inappropriate messages and search terms among other evidence on his tablet as well as his mother's computer, according to Probation Officer Lisa A. Denault.
"These are the cases where we need to protect the public," said Judge John Agostini before imposing sentence Wednesday.
Pickard, 54, was sentenced in 2011 to 2 to 4 years in prison, followed by 10 years probation, after being convicted in Franklin County Superior Court on charges of attempted dissemination of obscene material to a minor and enticement of a child under 16.
He was arrested on those charges in 2009 after communicating online with an undercover police officer posing as a 13-year-old girl.
Part of Pickard's release conditions were to have no internet access and no unsupervised contact with anyone under 18.
Pickard was released in December and began violating his probation conditions within three months, Denault said.
The probation officer performed an unannounced visit at Pickard's home on March 3 and found him with a tablet computer that appeared to show ongoing conversations with girls as young as 10 years old.
Denault said Pickard tried to hide the computer when she asked him about it, telling her it was part of some junk he was cleaning up.
The tablet was seized and search warrants were granted for it and a computer belonging to Pickard's mother.
Those searches revealed sexually inappropriate conversations with a 14-year-old girl from Virginia and recorded searches including searches for photos of young girls.
Denault said the searches also showed Pickard may have been trying to locate or contact a particular child in Berkshire County.
The investigation also showed he had purchased a tablet computer as early as February.
Denault asked Agostini to send Pickard back to state prison for 4 to 5 years, followed by 10 years of probation, to which the judge obliged.
She called Pickard"a danger to society" who will require "intense supervision" after his release.
Pickard's attorney, Edmund R. St. John IV, asked Agostini to consider two consecutive 2 1/2 year sentences at the Berkshire Jail and House of Correction rather than state prison so his family would be better able to visit and support him.
He will serve his sentence at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction.
Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.