Federal grand jury indicts ex-guard

January 31, 2003 12:00 am

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

A former Sierra Conservation Center correctional officer who faces 95 counts of sexual abuse in Calaveras County Superior Court was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury.

The grand jury charged Neil Alden Leash, 46, with 11 counts of manufacturing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.

Leash is being held in the Calaveras County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail, awaiting a date for his continued preliminary hearing.

Calaveras County District Attorney Jeff Tuttle, Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurel White, the prosecuting attorney for the federal case, and defense attorney Ken Foley of San Andreas were unavailable for comment yesterday.

The federal indictment alleges that Leash allowed two minors in his care to engage in sexual acts while being filmed.

In a released statement, White said Leash could face up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release for each manufacturing count. The possession charge carries a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

As part of the 95 counts against him in Calaveras County, Leash faces eight counts of rape — two counts against one victim and six against another.

The Calaveras County criminal complaint lists three victims, all minors, labeled as Jane Doe, Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2. Also in the charges is one count of sexual penetration by a foreign object. The remaining counts stem from various acts of sexual abuse.

When Leash last appeared in court in November, he faced four charges of child molestation and one charge of indecent exposure. At that time, Tuttle requested a continuance in Leash's preliminary hearing so he could build a bigger case, and Leash agreed.

The state criminal complaint alleges the crimes occurred between Jan. 1, 1991, and Sept. 30, 2000. The federal complaint said the crimes happened between 1991 and 1999.

The federal indictments were the product of a joint investigation by the Calaveras County Sheriff's Department and District Attorney's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Sacramento Valley High Tech Crimes Task Force.