Former trooper accused of using social media to plan hotel meeting with minor convicted by jury

FastCast digital headlines for Tuesday, March 28, 2023.
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 10:38 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A former Alaska state trooper accused of letting a teenage girl off in a traffic stop and messaging her using social media to meet him in a hotel room in 2018 was convicted Friday.

A jury convicted 62-year-old Vance Peronto on one count of second-degree attempted abuse of a minor, but was not able to come to a unanimous decision on two counts of possession of child pornography, according to the Alaska Department of Law.

The conviction stems from an incident that started April 8, 2018, when Peronto stopped a 16-year-old girl in Kenai for driving without her headlights on. Investigators with the Alaska State Troopers say Peronto did not give her a ticket but just days later began messaging her on social media.

Peronto established a social media relationship and eventually set up a meeting in an Anchorage hotel room with the girl, who was then working with investigators. The April 29 meeting ended with a confrontation with officers with the Anchorage Police Department and state troopers.

A release from the department of law said Peronto “took a substantial step toward engaging in sexual penetration with a 16-year-old minor while occupying a position of authority in relation to the minor.”

“The Alaska State Troopers cannot allow anyone, especially a law enforcement officer, to abuse their power and violate the trust of the community as Vance Peronto did,” Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell said in the release. “The prosecution of this former State Trooper sends a clear message that no one is above the law, and we will not tolerate any criminal activity within our ranks.”

The jury deliberated for about two and a half days, the law department said, after a trial that lasted more than two weeks

A sentencing date for Peronto has not yet been scheduled, but the department said Peronto is facing between two and 12 years in custody. The mandatory minimum sentence is four years with two years suspended, with an additional five years of probation.