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Feds Making Prosecution of Child Predators a Top Priority
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – September marks back to school, and is an appropriate time to highlight the work the U.S. Attorney’s Office and its Project Safe Childhood partners are doing to prevent, investigate, and prosecute sexual predators, abusers, and pornographers who target children.
Led by the U.S. Attorneys Offices, Project Safe Childhood (PSC) is a Department of Justice initiative that marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.
U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said, “We are steadfastly committed to the safety and well-being of every child in western Pennsylvania and have made investigating and prosecuting offenders involved in child sexual exploitation a highest priority. Over the past several weeks, we brought multiple defendants to justice across our district. Going forward, we intend to build on those successes.”
“The exploitation of vulnerable youth is a growing issue in our country and right here at home,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones.
“These child predators think they can use the internet to have a sense of anonymity when they target these kids. I want to commend the hard work and dedication of all the agents who work these very important cases. They are among some of the toughest to work, but we hope these outcomes provide a small measure of justice for the victims who no doubt suffer lifelong damages from the actions of these child predators.”
“We must protect our children, they are the most vulnerable and precious members of our community,” said Marlon V. Miller, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Philadelphia.
“HSI is committed to working with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania and our other law enforcement partners to investigate and bring to justice predators who prey on children.”
Major Stephen K. Eberle, Area I Commander for the Pennsylvania State Police, added, “The Pennsylvania State Police are proud to work alongside our federal and local law enforcement and prosecution partners to protect our children from Internet predators in every form—those who have been convicted, those who are non-compliant, and those who have not yet been found.”
A list of cases follows:
KIDNAPPING AND AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD
On August 27, United States District Judge Kim R. Gibson sentenced Timothy D. Nelson, Jr., 50, of Cumberland, Maryland, to 30 years in prison and ordered him to pay a $5,000 assessment under the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act on his conviction of kidnapping and aggravated sexual abuse of person under 12 years old. On the afternoon of September 19, 1999, in a quiet neighborhood in Shade Township, Somerset County, an unknown man abducted a 10-year-old girl. He forced her to the floor of his car and transported her at gun point across the Pennsylvania state line into West Virginia, where he sexually assaulted her. He drove the minor victim back into Pennsylvania, abandoned her on a dirt road, and vanished. A couple driving by saw the child in distress and offered assistance. Law enforcement responded. The minor victim was able to direct law enforcement to the location of the sexual assault, where they found a discarded brown paper bag and napkin that had been used to clean up following the assault. Forensic examination found partial fingerprints and DNA. At that time however, there were no matching results in either the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) or the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database. In 2004, DNA from a different kidnapping and assault that occurred in September 1988 in Maryland was found to match the 1999 kidnapping in Somerset County. Still, the perpetrator was unknown. In Fall 2018, fingerprints re-submitted to the new fingerprint identification system – Next Generation Identification (NGI) identified Timothy David Nelson Jr. as a possible match. The FBI Laboratory subsequently confirmed the partial prints from the discarded bag as a match to Timothy David Nelson Jr., who was living in Maryland. In January 2019, Nelson was arrested on Pennsylvania state charges, and a federal DNA search warrant was executed. Subsequent DNA analysis proved Nelson’s DNA was a match for the September 19, 1999 incident that began in Cairnbrook, Somerset County. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie L. Haines prosecuted this case. The Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI conducted the investigation.
COERCION AND ENTICEMENT OF A MINOR
On September 12, former Tulsa, Oklahoma resident Shelby Summer Brown, 28, waived prosecution by Indictment and pleaded guilty to an Information. In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on or about March 6, 2018, to on or about March 14, 2018, Brown conspired and agreed with another individual, Oscar Carter, to knowingly persuade, induce, entice, and coerce an individual, Minor A (who had not yet attained the age of 18 years) to travel from Ohio to Pennsylvania, to engage in prostitution from March 6, 2018 through March 14, 2018. U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon scheduled sentencing for January 14, 2020. The law provides for a total sentence of not more than 25 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. Pending sentencing, the Judge ordered Brown remain detained. Assistant U.S. Attorney Heidi M. Grogan is prosecuting this case, which was investigated by the FBI, the Cranberry Township Police and the Pittsburgh Police.
On August 13, Joseph Hamilton, 38 of Pittsburgh, was indicted on a charge of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity. According to the indictment, from March 11, 2019 until on or about April 18, 2019, Hamilton used a facility or means of interstate commerce, specifically the Internet and over a cellular phone network, to knowingly attempt to persuade, induce, entice and coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of up to life in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Assistant U.S. Attorney Heidi M. Grogan is prosecuting this case, which was investigated by the FBI.
TRAVEL FOR SEX
On September 10, Chief United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak sentenced Alastair Lee Stewart, 27, of Van Buren, Arkansas, to a term of imprisonment of 12 years and seven months (151 months) and 27 years of supervised release. From November 15, 2016 to March 27, 2017, Stewart engaged in internet conversations with a 12 year-old girl over a chatting application called “Live Me,” and later communicated with the victim over Skype, Snapchat, and text messages. Stewart then traveled from Arkansas to western Pennsylvania and arranged to meet the victim at her grandfather’s residence, where he sexually assaulted her in a motor home on the property on March 24 and March 25, 2017. Stewart fled the area on March 26, 2017. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christy C. Weigand and Jessica L. Smolar prosecuted this case. The FBI and Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation.
On August 15, Jeffrey Judd, 60, of Vienna, Ohio, pleaded guilty to a charge of traveling with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity with a minor. In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that in late May 2017, Judd began conversing with a 14-year-old male over the “Chathour” software application and by email. He arranged to meet the child victim in the parking lot of his school on June 1, 2017, and traveled from Vienna, Ohio, to Hermitage, Pennsylvania, to engage in intercourse and oral sex acts with the victim. The victim was frightened by Judd’s arrival at the school, and failed to show at the meet location. He later reported his communications with Judd to school officials. Judd continued to communicate by email with the victim until June 5, 2017. Judge Bissoon scheduled sentencing for December 6, 2019. The law provides for a total sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn J. Bloch is prosecuting this case, which was investigated by the FBI and the Hermitage Police Department.
PRODUCTION/DISTRIBUTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
On August 29, Chief United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak sentenced Randolph Guy Gum, 25, of Rochester, Pennsylvania, to 30 years’ imprisonment followed by lifetime supervised release on his conviction of production and distribution of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor. In 2014, Gum produced at least seven videos of his sexual exploitation of a minor—Minor A, and on July 23, 2015 distributed at least one of these videos and a link containing thousands of other images depicting the sexual exploitation of minors to another individual via email. At the time of the offense, Minor A was seven years old. In sentencing the defendant, Chief Judge Hornak ordered that at least 10 years (120 months) of Gum’s federal sentence shall run consecutive to the 15-year to 40-year state sentence that Gum is currently serving for the sexual abuse of Minor A. Assistant U.S. Attorney Heidi M. Grogan prosecuted this case. Homeland Security Investigations and the Rochester, Pennsylvania Police Department conducted the investigation.
On August 12, United States District Judge David S. Cercone sentenced Michael Robert Heinrich, 68, of Girard, Pennsylvania, to 15 years in prison, lifetime supervised release and a $5,300 special assessment. In January 2017 Heinrich took sexually explicit photos of a minor who was four years of age at the time. On February 14, 2017, Heinrich again took sexually explicit photos of that same four-year-old minor and also took a sexually explicit photo of a three-year-old minor. An examination of Heinrich’s computers and cell phone also revealed the presence of numerous other images depicting prepubescent minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian A. Trabold prosecuted this case on behalf of the government. The FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation.
On August 13, Krent Jeffrey Haight, 47, formerly of Pittsburgh was indicted on charges of distribution and possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation of minors. According to the two-count Indictment, on or about September 20, 2018, Haight distributed material depicting the sexual exploitation of minors to an internet website, and on November 14, 2018, Haight knowingly possessed videos and images in computer graphic files, the production of which involved the use of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, some of whom had not yet attained 12 years of age. The law provides for a term of imprisonment of not less than five years, and not more than 20 years, a fine of $250,000, or both. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shanicka L. Kennedy is prosecuting this case, which was investigated by the FBI.
POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
On September 10, Michael Pulliam, 36, of Fairchance, Pennsylvania, was indicted on a charge of possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor. According to the one-count indictment, Pulliam knowingly possessed visual depictions, namely, images and videos in computer graphic files, which depicted, minors who have not attained 12 years of age, engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee J. Karl is prosecuting this cas, which was investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police.
On September 9, Senior United States District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose sentenced Jason A. Early, 41, of Uniontown, Pennsylvania to a term of imprisonment of three years and one month (37 months), to be followed by 10 years of supervised release. In October 2017, Homeland Security Investigations was conducting an investigation into the Internet sharing of child pornography (CP). They obtained and executed a search warrant at the residence of Jason Early. A forensic review of his devices revealed 1,181 images and videos depicting CP, including images and videos of toddlers 2 or 3 years of age, as well as bondage. Early admitted to viewing CP through peer to peer programs and that there was CP stored on his MacBook and on two external hard drives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shanicka L. Kennedy prosecuted this case. Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation.
On August 28, Brian R. Reddinger, 36, of Shaler Township, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation of minors. In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that in the fall of 2016, Homeland Security Investigations was conducting an online investigation into the internet sharing of child pornography. As part of the investigation, a special agent was able to connect to a device that was sharing material depicting the sexual exploitation of minors and download a suspected child porn file. The investigation led to Brian Reddinger. On November 1, 2016, agents executed a search warrant on Reddinger’s home. Reddinger admitted to searching, downloading, viewing and possessing child porn. He stated that his downloads are highly structured on his computer. He further stated that he downloaded files of individuals as young as five years of age. Three of the items seized from Reddinger contained child porn. In total, there were 2,932 images and 60 videos of child porn on the devices. U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon scheduled sentencing for January 9, 2020. The law provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. Pending sentencing, the court continued Reddinger’s bond. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shanicka L. Kennedy is prosecuting this case, which was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations.
On August 21, United States District Judge Kim R. Gibson sentenced John F. Boslett, 54, of Altoona, Pennsylvania, to two years (24 months) in prison and 10 years supervised release. On August 8, 2013, Boslet knowingly possessed images as computer graphic files containing child pornography, which had been shipped and transported in interstate or foreign commerce by means of a computer. Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold P. Bernard, Jr. prosecuted this case. Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation.
On August 20, Jack Brian Laforte, 54 of Monessen, Pennsylvania, was indicted on a charge of possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor. According to Indictment, on or about June 14, 2019, Laforte possessed videos and images in computer graphic files, the production of which involved the use of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, some of whom had not yet attained 12 years of age. Information provided to the court included the fact that Laforte was previously employed as a bus driver for the Monessen School District. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum term of supervised release of life, and a fine of $250,000, or both. Assistant U.S. Attorney Heidi M. Grogan is prosecuting this case, which was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations.
On August 15, United States Senior District Judge Nora Barry Fischer imposed the sentence on David McAnally, 64, of Mars, Pennsylvania, to four years’ (48 months’) imprisonment, followed by eight years’ supervised release. On September 4, 2015, McAnally unlawfully possessed more than 500,000 still images and videos in computer graphics files depicting minor females, some of whom were under the age of 12 years, engaging in sexually explicit conduct. McAnally received and distributed the images through Bit Torrent, a peer-to-peer Internet file-sharing network. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn J. Bloch prosecuted this case on behalf of the government. The Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation.
On August 12, Matthew Poese, 47, of Fairview, Pennsylvania, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a charge of violating federal laws relating to the sexual exploitation of children, In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Poese possessed computer images depicting prepubescent minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Poese was previously employed as a Camp Counselor at a YMCA Camp in Eastern Ohio. U.S. District Judge David Cercone scheduled sentencing for December 9, 2019. The law provides for a total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Pending sentencing, the court placed Poese on bond. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case, which was investigated by the FBI.
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