The former leader of a Cub Scout den in Danville pleaded not guilty in federal court in Oakland Friday to two child pornography charges, according to a spokesman for federal prosecutors.
Michael Vawter, 40, of San Ramon, was indicted earlier this week by a federal grand jury on one count of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography, U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Jack Gillund said.
Gillund said that after entering a not-guilty plea to those charges, Vawter was ordered by U.S. Magistrate Donna Ryu to return to her courtroom on Wednesday for a hearing on whether he should be granted release on bail while awaiting trial.
Gillund said that if Vawter is convicted, the charge of receiving child pornography carries a minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a maximum of 20 years. The possession charge has a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
Vawter was arrested by the FBI Thursday morning in the parking lot of the Contra Costa County Superior Court courthouse in Walnut Creek, according to Deputy Contra Costa County District Attorney Dana Filkowski.
Filkowski said Vawter was arriving at the county courthouse for a session to schedule a preliminary hearing on a state court charge of possessing child pornography.
Filkowski said that after Vawter was arrested, she obtained dismissal of the state charge in Superior Court "in the interests of justice," since Vawter will now be federally prosecuted for the same alleged conduct.
He faces more time in federal prison if convicted, Filkowski said. The now-dismissed state charge carried a maximum sentence of three years in prison, she said.
Vawter, a former executive with CCI Financial and Insurance Services in San Ramon, was originally arrested by San Ramon police in March and was formally charged in Superior Court in May with the state count of possession of child pornography.
Deputy District Attorney Jon Yamaguchi said at the time that police allegedly found 187 pornographic videos on his computer.
Police said they had received an anonymous tip that Vawter had pornography images on his office computer.