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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


APRIL 1, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


PROJECT SAFE CHILDHOOD


FORMER TANNING SALON OWNER PLEADS GUILTY

TO PRODUCING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY


FACES AT LEAST 15 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON

FOR SECRETLY VIDEOTAPING CUSTOMERS


            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the former owner of a Springfield, Mo., tanning salon pleaded guilty in federal court today to producing child pornography by secretly videotaping teenage girls who were customers of his business.


             Brett Patrick Kent, 35, formerly of Springfield, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England this morning to the charge contained in a July 26, 2007, federal indictment. Kent is the former owner of 360 Degree Tan in Springfield. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Kent also agreed to plead guilty to 22 counts of felony invasion of privacy in the Circuit Court of Greene County, Mo.


             By pleading guilty today, Kent admitted that he produced child pornography on Dec. 6, 2005. Kent also admitted that he used a hidden camera to secretly videotape at least 20 female customers, including seven minors, while they used the tanning beds.


             An employee of Kent's at 360 Degree Tan discovered video images of a customer (a minor female) in various stages of undress, including full nudity, on the business computer on Dec. 9, 2005. The video appeared to have been made from a camera located somewhere near the tanning bed that allowed the viewing of the person disrobing from an image reflected on a mirror in the room and then the fully exposed nude person, including images of the person lying on the tanning bed.


             The employee reported what she found to the police. Later that day, police officers executed a search warrant at the business and seized a covert hidden camera and other related equipment, including computer hardware and software. The camera lens was mounted inside the fan unit of a tanning bed using Velcro tape, positioned at the foot of the bed. Velcro tape was also found inside the fan unit of a second tanning bed.


             During a search of Kent’s computers and computer media, law enforcement officers discovered multiple video images of females that were in stages of undress, including partial and complete nudity. Police officers identified and interviewed 20 women identified from the digital video files. The females ranged in age from 16 to 26 years old. None of the women consented to being filmed. All of the women identified Kent as the employee on duty at the time of their tanning appointment.


             Seven minors were identified in 13 of the digital video files. The videos were made from Dec. 6 to 8, 2005. All of the girls appear completely nude, with one exception. Kent was the employee on duty on those dates.


             Kent also admitted that he possessed six computer CDs at his home that contained images and video of child pornography. The images of child pornography included prepubescent minors or children under the age of 12 years. At least some of the images of child pornography were downloaded from the Internet.


            Under federal statutes, Kent could be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to 30 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


            This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.


Project Safe Childhood

            This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys Offices, 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 identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html