Longtime Montgomery Resident Pleads Guilty to Distributing Child Pornography Over the Internet
Montgomery, Alabama - “The hidden monster of child pornography strikes all parts of this country and people in all walks of life, including people in the Middle District of Alabama as shown by Frederick Ball Matthews, 48, of Montgomery, Alabama, pleading guilty to distribution of child pornography,” announced George L. Beck, Jr.. Matthews appeared in federal district court and pled guilty to a one-count felony information charging him with distributing child pornography over the internet. In a plea hearing held before United States Magistrate Judge Walker, Matthews admitted that during a six-month period in 2010 he used a computer and a peer-to-peer file sharing software application knowingly to distribute more than 600 child pornography images to other individuals.
The federal investigation of Matthews began in the first half of 2010, when the Department of Homeland Security, Assistant Attaché in Toronto, Canada, received information from the Toronto Police Service – Child Exploitation Section that an internet account traceable to Matthews was making thousands of child pornography images and videos available for download. At around the same time, Matthews’ account was snagged in two other, wholly independent, undercover operations conducted by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Rochester, New York, and Miami, Florida. Between the three investigations, officers observed Matthews’ computer hosting for download many thousands of images and videos of children being sexually abused.
In June 2010, agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) executed a federal search warrant at Matthews’ Montgomery residence, seizing two computers and numerous electronic storage devices. A subsequent forensic analysis found over 200,000 images and over 8,000 videos of child pornography spread across one computer, two external hard drives, and a USB flash drive – a collection that ranks among the largest ever prosecuted in the Middle District of Alabama. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reviewed Matthews’ collection and was able to identify the children depicted in over 5,000 images and nearly 1,500 videos. From the outset of the investigation, Matthews agreed to cooperate with law enforcement and confessed that he had been trading child pornography over the internet for several years.
As a result of his conviction, Matthews faces a maximum possible penalty of 20 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and a lifetime term of supervised release. A date for Matthews’ sentencing has not been set.
As part of his negotiated plea agreement with the United States, Matthews has agreed to be sentenced in accordance with the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines, to include more than five years in prison and a lifetime term of supervised release. Matthews’ conviction also requires that he register as a convicted sex offender. The United States sought to detain Matthews at the conclusion of his plea hearing, but after considering argument and evidence from both sides, Judge Walker allowed Matthews to remain out on bond under certain restrictive conditions, including that he not access the internet or have unsupervised contact with children and that he remain under home confinement with GPS electronic monitoring.
This case was investigated by agents in the Montgomery field office of the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the Toronto Police Service – Child Exploitation Section, the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Rochester, New York, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Miami, Florida. Forensic analysis was provided by Michael B. Trotter with the Office of Prosecution Services, Alabama District Attorneys’ Association. Assistant United States Attorney Nathan D. Stump is prosecuting the case.
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