After violating a probation requirement that he not interact with minors, a 19-year-old Jackson man will serve up to six years in prison for sexual exploitation of children.
Earlier this year Zach Ladnier, who has lived in Teton County since he was 16, reached a plea agreement that spared him the sexual exploitation conviction and registration as a sex offender. But after law enforcement officers caught him with minors twice in one week
this past summer, Teton County District Court Judge Timothy Day had no trouble with his verdict Wednesday.
“This is going to be short,” Day said. “You only get so many do-overs, Mr. Ladnier. I’m sorry you put yourself in this position, I’m sorry you put the court in this position, and I’m sorry you put all the victims in the sad place that they are.”
Ladnier, originally of Alabama, was arrested in December following a monthslong investigation that uncovered photos on his phone that “appeared to be underage children in sexually explicit situations,” according to court records. Police also found methamphetamine and marijuana edibles during his arrest.
For those offenses, he was sentenced in May to serve six months in Teton County Jail. He received credit for the time he had already served and got out a few weeks later. But Day offered him a warning at the time.
“If you keep messing around with drugs and alcohol, you’ll be back here sooner than later,” he said. “If you violate probation the conviction will be entered, you will register as a sex offender and you can go to prison for 10 years.”
A few months later, Ladnier acknowledged he hadn’t given the court reason to trust him. Nevertheless, with plans to relocate to Idaho Falls and enter a rehabilitation program, he asked for leniency.
“I can’t make any excuses for my violations,” he said. “There’s no excuse to be made, and ‘I’m sorry’ doesn’t fix it. I do believe if I am given another chance and am allowed to move out of the state, then I’ll be able to do better on probation.”
Day wasn’t persuaded. Without hesitation he sentenced Ladnier to two and a half to six years in a penal institution to be chosen by the Wyoming Department of Corrections. He will receive credit for the roughly 200 days he has already spent in custody.
At the urging of Ladnier’s attorney, Elisabeth Trefonas, Day agreed to also allow Ladnier to enroll in a bootcamp program that includes counseling and could give him the opportunity to have his sentence reduced.