WASHINGTON – The lead administrator and the web host of an online child pornography bulletin board were sentenced today to 120 and 97 months in prison, respectively, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Baltimore; and Inspector in Charge Daniel S. Cortez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) – Washington Division.
George Sell, 70, of Cumberland, Md., and Terry Lee Nolley, 47, of Silver Spring, Md., were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. in Greenbelt, Md. Sell and Nolley also were each ordered to serve lifetime terms of supervised release.
Sell and Nolley previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport child pornography. Nolley also pleaded guilty to destruction of records in a federal investigation.
According to court documents, from December 2006 through August 2008, Sell, Nolley and others conspired to operate “Country Lounge,” a secure web-based bulletin board dedicated to trading images of child pornography. Members could join this group only upon invitation and after approval by the group’s administrators, including Sell. To obtain access to “Country Lounge,” a member was required to have a username and password. Members were instructed by a specific set of rules and guidelines on how to post images via “Country Lounge” to avoid detection from law enforcement. As of August 2008, 142 members belonged to the bulletin board, which was hosted on computer servers in Virginia and Texas. In October 2008, “Country Lounge” was seized by law enforcement authorities.
From December 2006 through July 2008, Sell was the “root administrator” and day-to-day manager of Country Lounge, while Nolley agreed to host the bulletin board on computer servers maintained by him in Silver Spring.
According to court documents, Sell conspired with other individuals to take control of “Country Lounge” from its former owner and administrator, directed the creation and operation of a new “Country Lounge,” and received technical advice and assistance from co-conspirators to obtain his goal of creating and operating the new “Country Lounge.” Sell directed the daily management of “Country Lounge,” including direction over its layout and content, membership and the “rules” of the board. In addition to hosting the board, Nolley assisted Sell with the creation and maintenance of “Country Lounge.” After July 2008, Nolley transferred his web-hosting responsibilities to other co-conspirators, but continued as a “Country Lounge” member.
In November 2009, federal agents from ICE-HSI executed a search warrant on Sell’s residence and removed two computer hard drives. A forensic review of these items found them to contain multiple images of child pornography, many of which were obtained from “Country Lounge.”
In November 2009, federal agents interviewed Nolley and instructed him not to remove anything from his residence. Later that day, agents executed a search warrant at Nolley’s home and recovered several electronic devices. Nolley admitted that between the interview and the execution of the search warrant, he disposed of four additional hard drives believed to contain child pornography. Specifically, Nolley admitted that he left his home with the four hard drives, took steps to evade law enforcement and threw the hard drives into woods at the side of the road in an effort to impede the federal investigation.
This case was 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 Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, 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.projectsafechildhood.gov. Details about Maryland’s program are available at www.justice.gov/usao/md/Safe-Childhood/index.html .
This case is being prosecuted by CEOS Trial Attorneys Jennifer Toritto Leonardo and Darcy Katzin, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacy Belf of the District of Maryland. The case was investigated by ICE-HSI, USPIS and the NASA Office of Inspector General.