Criminal Justice News

Friday, December 18, 2015

New York Man Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Receiving and Accessing Child Pornograph



Eighteen Others Previously Sentenced to Prison for Illegal Activity on Child Pornography Websites Based on Tor Network

A New York man was sentenced to six years in federal prison today for receiving and accessing child pornography in connection with his use of a website based on the Tor network.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Deborah R. Gilg of the District of Nebraska and Acting Special Agent in Charge James C. Langenberg of the FBI’s Omaha, Nebraska, Division made the announcement.

“Child sex offenders are migrating to anonymous networks where they feel free to pursue evil and violent acts without fear or hesitation,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Anonymization is just one of many challenges we face when combatting the sexual victimization of children, as offenders seek to hide their activities behind technological barriers.  But while identifying these criminals is difficult, it is not impossible.  We will use every legal authority we have to identify and root out these predators and protect children from harm.”

“Today's sentence and the others imposed earlier demonstrate that those who exploit children will be aggressively pursued and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said U.S. Attorney Gilg.  “Those who think they are acting anonymously on the Internet will be found and held accountable.”

“Children must be protected from sexual exploitation, and we remain committed to investigating the production and distribution of child pornography,” said Special Agent in Charge Langenberg.  “Today’s sentencing reflects the FBI’s persistent declaration to those who advertise, distribute, possess and trade child pornography, that we will look for you and we will find you.”

Kirk Cottom, 45, of Rochester, New York, pleaded guilty on Aug. 3, 2015, to receiving and accessing with intent to view child pornography before Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon of the District of Nebraska.

In connection with his guilty plea, Cottom admitted that in November 2012, he accessed images of child sexual exploitation via a website then operating in Omaha.  The website was accessible only through the Tor network, an Internet application specifically designed to facilitate anonymous communication.  The website’s users employed advanced technological means in order to undermine law enforcement’s attempts to identify them.  In addition to accessing this website, Cottom’s personal computer contained more than 600 child exploitation images and contained evidence of significant Internet activity showing access to child pornography websites on the Tor network.

Cottom was the 19th individual to be convicted as part of an ongoing investigation targeting three child pornography websites based on the Tor network.  Aaron McGrath, who ran the websites, was convicted in the District of Nebraska of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise and was sentenced to 20 years in prison in January 2014.

The 17 other individuals previously convicted and sentenced in connection with their respective illegal activity on one of those websites are:


  • ·         Timothy Defoggi, then 56, formerly of Gaithersburg, Maryland, was convicted after trial of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise and accessing with intent to view child pornography and sentenced to 25 years in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp of the District of Nebraska on Jan. 5, 2015.
  • ·         Jason Flanary, then 42, formerly of Chicago, the Philippines and Guam, pleaded guilty to engaging in a child exploitation enterprise and was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Judge Bataillon on June 30, 2014.
  • ·         Wesley Cameron, then 22, formerly of Ashford, Alabama, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to advertise child pornography and was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Judge Bataillon on Oct. 24, 2014.
  • ·         Zackary Austin, 28, formerly of Reno, Nevada, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute child pornography and was sentenced to 16 years in prison by Judge Bataillon on Nov. 6, 2014.·      
  •    Charles MacMillan, 29, formerly of Rockville, Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to advertise child pornography and was sentenced to 12 years in prison by Judge Bataillon on Nov. 7, 2014.
  • ·         David William Peer, then 38, formerly of Spanish Fork, Utah, who previously had been convicted of a federal child pornography-related offense, pleaded guilty to accessing with intent to view child pornography and was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Judge Bataillon on March 27, 2015.
  • ·         Joshua Welch, then 29, formerly of Pensacola, Florida, was convicted after trial of receiving and accessing child pornography and was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Judge Bataillon on May 1, 2015.
  • ·         Michael Huyck, then 37, formerly of Lincoln, Nebraska, was convicted after trial of receiving, accessing and possessing child pornography and was sentenced to six years in prison by Judge Bataillon on Sept. 1, 2015.
  • ·         Warren Tidwell, then 38, pleaded guilty to accessing with intent to view child pornography and was sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Bataillon on Nov. 20, 2015. 
  • ·         Russell Glenn Pierce, then 57, formerly of Hollywood, Florida, pleaded guilty to accessing with intent to view child pornography and was sentenced to four years in prison by Judge Bataillon on Oct. 2, 2015.
  • ·         Thomas Spencer, then 48, formerly of North Las Vegas, Nevada, pleaded guilty to accessing with intent to view child pornography and was sentenced to four years in prison by Judge Bataillon on May 12, 2015.
  • ·         Vincent Diberardino, then 64, formerly of Newington, Connecticut, pleaded guilty to accessing with intent to view child pornography and was sentenced to four years in prison by Judge Bataillon on May 15, 2015.
  • ·         Brandon Moore, then 31, formerly of Stockton, California, pleaded guilty to accessing with intent to view child pornography and was sentenced to four years in prison by Judge Bataillon on Oct. 5, 2015.
  • ·         Gary Reibert, then 61, formerly of Troy, Ohio, pleaded guilty to accessing with intent to view child pornography and was sentenced to four years in prison by Judge Bataillon on Aug. 13, 2015.
  • ·         David Smith, then 28, formerly of Butler, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to accessing with intent to view child pornography and was sentenced to four years in prison by Judge Bataillon on June 26, 2015.
  • ·         Kevin Pitman, then 37, formerly of Austin, Texas, pleaded guilty to accessing with intent to view child pornography ad was sentenced to four years in prison by Judge Bataillon on June 26, 2015.
  • ·         John Sebes, then 54, formerly of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to accessing with intent to view child pornography and was sentenced to 42 months in prison by Judge Bataillon on Dec. 3, 2014.


These cases were brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.  Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

The FBI’s Omaha Field Office and the FBI’s Violent Crimes against Children Section, Major Case Coordination Unit and Digital Analysis and Research Center led the investigation of this case.  Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, as well as members of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force, assisted in the investigation.  Trial Attorney Keith Becker of CEOS and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael P. Norris of the District of Nebraska prosecuted this case.

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