HOLLIDAYSBURG - When Justin H. Thompson, 26, was arrested more than two years ago, authorities said they found the largest psychedelic mushroom-growing operation in state history in his apartment on Pennsylvania Avenue in Tyrone.
But when Thompson appeared before a Blair County judge Monday, it wasn't his agri-skills that landed him behind bars for six to 20 years.
When police searched a computer in his apartment to see if he was involved with anyone else in the production and possible distribution of psilocybin mushrooms, they found 116 sexually explicit images of children.
Blair County First Assistant District Attorney Jackie Bernard, who has pushed for legislation to stiffen penalties for child pornography, presented a plea agreement to Judge Wade Kagarise calling for a six-year minimum state prison sentence for Thompson for 12 of the images.
Thompson, represented by attorney Peter Daley of Donora, a Democratic state legislator for the past 31 years, entered pleas to the child pornography charges and received the prison sentence.
The Altoona native will receive credit for the 30 months he has spent awaiting trial in the Blair County Prison.
Bernard informed Thompson that he will be subject to a Megan's Law hearing to determine if he is a sexually violent predator.
The Pennsylvania Sexual Assessment Review Board will prepare a report recommending for or against Thompson's classification as a violent sexual predator. That will be followed by a hearing before Kagarise, who can accept or reject the recommendation.
As for the drug charges, Thompson received one to 12 months each for possession with intent to deliver and conspiracy. Those sentences will be concurrent with the sentence for child pornography, meaning he will serve no additional time.
Police responded to Thompson's home on Feb. 9, 2012, after receiving a complaint from his girlfriend that he had assaulted her.
She reported the mushroom growing operation to police and gave officers permission to search the apartment.
According to initial reports, investigators took truckloads of mushroom growing equipment from the building.
The items included soil, petri-dishes, fertilizer, humidifiers and dehumidifiers.
The judge also sentenced Thompson to one to 12 months each for unlawful restraint and simple assault, but the sentences also were concurrent.
Thompson apologized to the judge for his actions.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.