New York man given 18 years for orchestrating assault of child
PITTSFIELD — A New York man has been sentenced to up to 18 years in prison for an elaborate blackmail scheme in which an 18-month-old child was sexually assaulted by a woman.
Judge John Agostini called the case one of the most disturbing he ever had encountered.
Gary Montana, 32, of Hudson, used two online aliases — Brian Austin and Mike Moore — to facilitate the scheme, according to prosecutors.
Montana, posing as Austin, began an online relationship with Erica Emerling, 32, of Pittsfield, who is charged separately in the case.
Over time, Emerling considered herself in a relationship with Austin, despite never having met him. At some point, she sent him compromising photos.
Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano said the two made arrangements to meet several times, but those plans always ended up being canceled.
Around Dec. 31, 2017, the two made arrangements to spend New Year's Eve together.
Austin told Emerling that his brother, Mike, would pick her up — and the child — and take them to a motel in Pittsfield.
He later communicated to Emerling, who was at the motel with the child, that he wouldn't be able to make the trip, but he persuaded her to have sex with Mike.
The next day, Austin contacted Emerling and said she needed to perform a sex act on the child or he would release the explicit photos she had sent him. She obliged, and Montana, posing as Mike, filmed the incident.
Montana pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Tuesday to one count each of posing a child in the nude, and aggravated indecent assault and battery on a person under 14.
Yorlano recommended 15 to 18 years in prison. He acknowledged that was beyond the state's sentencing guidelines, but he said it was appropriate, given the age of the victim and level of deception Montana employed.
Yorlano described the child as completely helpless and called Montana's scheme methodical.
Montana's attorney, Dale Bass, argued for his client to serve the 10-year minimum mandatory sentence, followed by five years of probation.
Bass argued that Emerling was just as culpable in the assault as Montana and that 10 years was a significant enough sentence. He said the state's recommendation so far exceeded the guidelines that it was almost laughable.
He also claimed that the child, due to his age, likely would have no memory of the assault and suffer no long-term trauma as a result.
Agostini disagreed, sentencing Montana to 13 to 18 years in prison, which will be served at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction. He denied a request from Bass that a recommendation be made for his client to serve that sentence at the Berkshire Jail and House of Correction.
Montana will receive credit for 459 days of time served in custody.
Emerling faces similar charges in the incident; her case remains open.
Bob Dunn can be reached at email@example.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.
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