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By Tracy Connor

He was a semester away from graduating West Point when he was caught with a cache of child porn. Now the ex-cadet is going to federal prison for eight years.

Ricky Patrick Hester, 25, was sentenced Wednesday to 97 months behind bars by a federal judge who said the "evidence of guilt was overwhelming."

Ricky Patrick HesterCourtesy Facebook via WNDU

Homeland Security agents who tracked Hester to his dorm room in Orange County, New York, said he confessed to having and sending pornographic images of minors when confronted with his digital trail.

"I know I messed up," he told the investigators, expressing concern that he might not graduate, according to court papers.

Hester, who is from Grange, Indiana, claimed that he asked for a lawyer and was ignored and that his room at the United States Military Academy was improperly searched.

He was found guilty by a jury in June.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement that in dozens of emails, Hester expressed a preference for boys ages 4 to 10 and images of "kids being forced to do stuff" and "hardcore" acts between boys and men. Nearly 1,200 images and videos were seized from his room.