News and Press Releases

Palm Coast Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge of Receipt of Child Pornography

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15 , 2011

Jacksonville, FL - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announced today that Bryan Ross Spears (39, Palm Coast) pleaded guilty to receiving videos depicting child pornography over the internet. Spears was named in a criminal information charging that he knowingly received visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct over the internet. He faces a minimum of five years and up to 20 years in federal and a potential life term of supervised release. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court documents, in April 2011, a detective with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office used a particular database that allowed her to view internet protocol addresses in the surrounding geographical area that had access to and/or were trading child pornography over the internet. Using this database, the detective determined that one or more computers using a particular internet protocol address was hosting images of child pornography. Further investigation led to the address of a residence located in Palm Coast, Florida.

According to court documents, agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) responded to a request for assistance from the Volusia County Sheriff's Office and joined the investigation. ICE-HSI agents went to the Palm Coast residence to interview the occupants. During a consensual interview with the owner of the residence, the agents explained that the ongoing investigation pertained to child exploitation material that had been downloaded from the internet by someone at the owner’s residence. The owner advised that he operates a small business from his home. The owner employed two other individuals at the business, including Spears. The owner agreed to allow agents to take custody of one desktop and two laptop computers for forensic analysis. The owner advised that each computer was used by a different individual, and that the desktop computer located in one of the bedrooms was used by Spears for work for business purposes.

According to court documents, subsequent forensic analysis of the three computers revealed that the desktop computer used by Spears contained approximately ten video files containing child pornography. The child pornography video files were downloaded by Spears using two internet file sharing programs. Additionally, thousands of chat logs were found on the desktop computer used by Spears. Approximately 14,537 chat log files were saved to the computer between January 3, 2008 and May 24, 2011. All the chat logs examined during the forensic analysis were sexual in nature, and some related to sexually explicit conduct involving children.

The case was investigated by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office and ICE-HSI. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.

The 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."

 

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