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Former Timberlane gym teacher begins prison term in child pornography case

BRENTWOOD - A former Timberlane Regional Middle School teacher has begun serving a 2 to 4 year state prison sentence for possession of child pornography after losing a bid to have his 2011 conviction overturned.

Scott Buatti, 45, of Newton reported to the county sheriff's department to turn himself on Tuesday just weeks after being notified that his effort to overturn his convicted was rejected by a three judge panel of the state Supreme Court, County Attorney James Reams announced on Thursday.

Judge Kenneth McHugh issued an order to confirm that Buatti was due to serve his prison sentence, allowing Buatti to be taken into custody then transported to the state prison.

It's unknown whether Buatti might challenge his sentence before the state's Sentence Review Board, which could uphold, increase or decrease the prison term handed down by McHugh.

A jury convicted the once-popular gym teacher and coach last year on 10 counts of possession of child pornography and 10 counts of attempted possession of child pornography. He was sentenced last June, but allowed to remain free on bail while he appealed his conviction.

Buatti taught at Timberlane Middle School for 19 years until his 2009 indictment prompted his resignation. School officials later acknowledged they were told by federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement investigators a year earlier about their findings on Buatti's home computer.

School administrators decided to allow Buatti to stay in his job after a search of his school computer turned up no pornography. Buatti was first approached by ICE agents at his home on Feb. 25, 2008.

A larger ICE investigation dubbed "Operation Flicker" tracked down 5,000 subscribers in the U.S. to child pornography web sites. Buatti was tracked by the agents through his subscriber information and his Internet protocol address, according to court testimony.

Buatti testified in his own defense, maintaining he never subscribed to the pornography. His defense was that his computer was infected with a computer virus. Prosecutors called upon ICE agents, who testified that Buatti acknowledged he had looked at and kept images of girls as young as 8 or 9 years old on his computer.

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James A. Kimble may be reached at JKimble@newstote.com.

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