Joint Federal-State-Local Law Enforcement Action: Operation “Spring Clean” - 17 Search Warrants And 6 Arrests Related To Crimes Against Children
RICHMOND, Va. – From February 19, 2013, to April 22, 2103, federal, state, and local law enforcement in Richmond, Va. and surrounding counties, executed 17 search warrants and made six arrests in an operation known as “Spring Clean.”
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Jeffrey C. Mazanec, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Richmond Division; Timothy J. Heaphy, United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia; Chief Ray J. Tarasovic, City of Richmond Police Department; Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police; Colonel Thierry Dupuis, Chesterfield County Police Department; Colonel David R. Hines, Hanover County Sheriff’s Office; Chief Douglas A. Middleton, Henrico County Police Division; Chief Timothy J. Longo, Charlottesville Police Department; Special Agent in Charge John P. Torres of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations; Inspector in Charge Keith A. Fixel, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Charlotte Division; and Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, Virginia Attorney General’s Office, made the announcement after the multi-month operation was executed. Operation “Spring Clean” focused on the interdiction of crimes against children; specifically child pornography and child enticement type offenses.
Operation Spring Clean arose out of cooperative effort among multiple law enforcement agencies in the greater Richmond metropolitan area. Investigations into the sexual exploitation of children committed via the internet and facilitated through technology have increased each year. As a result of this increase, two taskforces have formed over the years, the FBI Child Exploitation Taskforce (CETF) and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Taskforce. It is through these two taskforces that federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies have formed partnerships and collaborated on these predatory internet investigations.
While conducting an investigation into the distribution of child pornography initiated by the City of Richmond Police Department, multiple targets were identified, within the greater Richmond metropolitan area, as distributing a large quantity of prepubescent child pornography depicting children ranging from infancy to 11 years of age. The sheer number of targets was concerning, as was the age of the children in the material they were distributing. After these incredibly troubling revelations, it was decided that the best course of action was to combine the efforts of the ICAC Taskforce and the FBI CETF in order to target these offenders, as well as others located across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Spring Clean became the name of the operation as law enforcement “cleaned,” or apprehended, a large number of alleged internet predators that would have normally taken months to accomplish, but through this coordination, was able to be done in a matter of days.
The following law enforcement agencies participated in the operation:
- Charlottesville Police Department
- Chesterfield County Police Department
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, Richmond Division
- Hanover County Sheriff’s Office
- Henrico County Police Division
- Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, Richmond Division
- City of Richmond Police Department
- U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Charlotte Division
- Virginia State Police
- The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia
- The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia
- The Virginia Attorney General’s Office
Search warrants were executed in the following localities: Bath, Chesterfield, Clifton Forge, Hanover, Henrico, Prince George, Richmond, and Weyers Cave.
Those arrested during the operation include:
- Brian McMahon Connell, 47, of Chesterfield, Virginia. Subsequent to his arrest, Connell was indicted on three federal charges of distribution of child pornography and is scheduled to stand trial in United States District Court in Richmond, Virginia on July 8, 2013.
- Robert Warren Louis Kropp, 26, of Colonial Heights, Virginia. Subsequent to his arrest, Kropp pleaded guilty on May 7, 2013, to the federal charge of coercion and enticement of a minor. He will be sentenced in United States District Court in Richmond, Virginia on August, 2, 2013.
- Guy Matthew Lotz, 28, of Weyers Cave, Virginia. Subsequent to his arrest, Lotz was indicted on a charge of distribution of child pornography in the Western District of Virginia. He is scheduled to stand trial on this federal charge on August 12, 2013.
- Harry Lee Palmquist, Jr., 45, of Chesterfield, Virginia. Subsequent to his arrest, Palmquist was indicted on three federal charges of distribution of child pornography. He is scheduled to stand trial in United States District Court in Richmond, Virginia on July 16, 2013.
- William Michael Stravitz, 48, of Richmond, Virginia. Subsequent to his arrest, Stravitz pleaded guilty to three state felony distribution of child pornography charges. He will be sentenced in Richmond Circuit Court.
- Brent Thomas Wilson, 31, of Midlothian, Virginia. Subsequent to his arrest, Wilson was charged with three counts of distribution of child pornography and three counts of possession of child pornography by the Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. He is scheduled to appear in Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in September 2013.
Criminal complaints, arrests, and indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.