A 19-year-old Jackson man who has been in Teton County Jail since before Christmas will remain incarcerated for a few more weeks.
Zach Ladnier was sentenced to six months in jail Tuesday afternoon after pleading guilty to possession of methamphetamine and no contest to sexual exploitation of children. In a plea agreement, the Teton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office agreed to dismiss three other counts of sexual exploitation and possession of a controlled substance.
During Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, Ladnier told the court that he has been living a life of crime for some time, but this is the first time he’s been caught.
“I am truly sorry for the crimes I have committed,” Ladnier told Teton County District Court Judge Timothy Day. “I take full responsibility. I know I have done a lot of bad things. I have gotten away with a lot of it.”
Ladnier recorded himself having sex with a juvenile, investigators said. Although they couldn’t find the video after searching Ladnier’s phone, they found questionable photos “that appeared to be underage children in sexually explicit situations.” During Ladnier’s arrest, police said they found methamphetamine and marijuana edibles on him.
Judge Day told Ladnier that he received a good deal considering what he pleaded guilty to.
“It doesn’t matter that you don’t have any criminal history,” Day said. “With respect to the impact that this has had on the victim and her family … the victim’s statement is compelling.”
Day read parts of the statements the victim and her mother sent to the court.
“This crime has made me sad and depressed,” the victim wrote. “People interact with me differently. It impacts my relationship with my parents.”
The victim wanted Ladnier to have to register as a sex offender as part of his sentencing, but because of the plea bargain, Day said he couldn’t require that.
Ladnier was offered a deferral on the sexual exploitation charge, meaning if he doesn’t break the law during his five years of supervised probation, a conviction for it won’t appear on his record.
“It is time for me to grow up and become a better citizen, a better person in general,” Ladnier said in court.
“I have been a judge for 16 years,” Day told Ladnier. “Do you know how many times I’ve heard that? Almost every time.”
Because of credit for time served, Ladnier was ordered to serve 19 more days in jail. He’ll immediately be placed on five years of supervised probation upon his release.
“If you keep messing around with drugs and alcohol, you’ll be back here sooner than later,” Day 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.”
Ladnier was ordered to have no contact with the victim.