Palm Coast Man Indicted on Federal Child Pornography Charges
Jacksonville, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announced today that Andrew Hitas (64, Palm Coast) has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Jacksonville on child pornography charges. Hitas is charged with two counts of receiving child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. On each of the receipt counts, Hitas faces a mandatory minimum of not less than 5 years and up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. On the possession count, Hitas is subject to up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Hitas was arrested at his residence in Palm Coast on October 26, 2011. An arraignment and detention hearing for Hitas is scheduled for October 31, 2011 at 3:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge James R. Klindt.
This case was investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov and click on the tab "other resources."