News

Silver Spring Man Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Receipt of Child Pornography

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2011

Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus sentenced William E. Wells, age 54, of Silver Spring, Maryland, today to five years in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for receipt of child pornography. Judge Titus also ordered Wells to pay a $20,000 fine and ordered that upon his release from prison, Wells must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations.

According to the plea agreement, from 2005 to 2009, agents with Homeland Security Investigations conducted a nationwide investigation of individuals who purchased memberships to websites that advertised and offered access to images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In 2006, a search warrant was executed at Wells’ home after he was identified as having purchased access to a website under investigation. Wells admitted that he paid for access to the site and that he used wiping software to delete files from his computer. A forensic examination of the computer seized from the residence showed evidence of a wiping software program and no images of child pornography were found on the computer. In November 2007, Wells used his roommate’s credit card and identification to attempt to purchase access to child pornography from a Russian company and in May 2008, Wells purchased a 30 day subscription to another child pornography website, using his roommate’s credit card information, home address, and email address to complete the transaction. During his 30-day membership, Wells accessed the website over eleven different times. On June 3, 2009, agents executed a federal search warrant at the defendant’s residence and seized his computer. A subsequent forensic analysis of the computer revealed approximately 233 images depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, which Wells had downloaded from the internet.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by 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 better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov. Details about Maryland’s program are available at www.justice.gov/usao/md/Safe-Childhood/index.html.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended ICE Homeland Security Investigations for its work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney LisaMarie Freitas, assigned from the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, who prosecuted the case.

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