Okolona Man Sentenced To 262 Months In Prison For Violating Federal Child Exploitation Laws
– Louisville Metro Police tip line led to charges
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – United States District Court Judge Charles R. Simpson, III, recently sentenced an Okolona, Kentucky, man to 262 months in prison followed by a life term of Supervised Release for violating federal child exploitation laws, announced David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky. Ronald Underwood a/k/a “Ronnie Underwood,” age 56, had previously pled guilty to six counts of violating federal law.
According to the plea agreement in the case, Underwood pled guilty to using the Internet to attempt to induce, entice, or coerce a person under the age of 18 to engage in illegal sexual activity, distributing child pornography, receiving child pornography, and possessing child pornography. The case started when, on January 25, 2008, the Louisville Metro Police Department received an anonymous report on their “574-LMPD” tip line about a possible sex crime. The report summary stated, “caller stated she wanted to report a Myspace.com account holder that is living in the Louisville Area. Friend ID# 138284905. Goes by the name of Ronnie and states he is 50 years old. The caller stated ‘his page was very pornographic and may be a pedifile.’ Caller stated, ‘The friends on his space are all really young.’” The tip-line operator forwarded the report to the Crimes Against Children Unit for investigation.
On January 28, 2008, a CACU detective utilized an undercover Myspace.com profile and sent the Ronnie profile a “Friend Request.” The undercover profile depicted the detective as a thirteen-year-old boy. On January 29, 2008, the user of the Ronnie profile approved the “Friend Request.” The two began a series of online communications lasting until March 2008. During the communications, Underwood appeared nude on a web camera for what he believed was a 13-year-old boy and engaged in a sexual act. He repeatedly asked the boy to send Underwood sexually explicit photos or to use a web camera for a return show. During the on-line communications, Underwood discussed engaging in sexual activity with the boy, including intercourse. On March 28, 2008, law enforcement officials executed a state search warrant at Underwood’s residence where he was located and placed under arrest. During the search, images of child pornography were located in Underwood’s bedroom. The images depicted young males approximately 12-15 years old in various sexual acts. One of the detectives recognized Underwood’s bedroom from the on-line communications during which Underwood had used a web camera to transmit images to the person he believed was a 13-year-old boy.
Additionally, the FBI arrested a person living outside Kentucky for the receipt and possession of child pornography. During the forensic examination of that person’s computer and Internet accounts, law enforcement officials discovered that the individual had received child pornography from one of Underwood’s screen names, OKO1256. Underwood distributed the child pornography video to the other person on or about February 3, 2008. On April 4, 2008, a CACU detective sent a state search warrant to America Online requesting, “any and all information on the AOL accounts, OKO1256, SEXYJEFFREY14, and SEXYJEFFREY16.” AOL responded to the search warrant. Information received from the search warrant revealed that Underwood had distributed child pornography files to 24 individuals. Similarly, the AOL information showed that on February 21, 2008, Underwood received a child pornography movie file from a screen name not controlled by Underwood. Additionally, on March 11, 2008, Underwood (screen name Sexyjeffrey14) distributed the same movie file to another individual. At all times relevant to the charges in the Indictment, Underwood engaged in the conduct while in Jefferson County, Kentucky. A forensic examination of Underwood’s computer revealed the presence of numerous videos and still images depicting child pornography.
Assistant United States Attorney Jo E. Lawless prosecuted the case. The Louisville Metro Police Department, in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted the investigation as part of Kentucky’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
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, 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.usdoj.gov/psc For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."