Palm Coast Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Receiving Child Pornography over the Internet
Jacksonville, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard sentenced Bryan Ross Spears (39, Palm Coast) to 10 years in federal prison on a federal child pornography charge. On September 15, 2011, Spears pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography over the internet. At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Spears was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshals Service to await designation to a federal prison. Spears was also ordered to register as a sex offender, and to serve a 10-year term of supervised release following his prison term .
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 (IP) 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. Customs and Immigration 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 an 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 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 business purposes.
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. Several of the videos depicted sadistic sexual conduct involving young children. Additionally, approximately 14,537 chat log files were saved to the computer used by Spears between January 3, 2008 and May 24, 2011. The chat logs examined during the forensic analysis were sexual in nature, and some related to sexually explicit conduct involving children, including the molestation of very young children by adults.
The case was investigated by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (ICE - HSI). It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
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."