OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106
MARCH 1, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PROJECT SAFE CHILDHOOD
KC MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO RECEIVING CHILD PORN
OVER THE INTERNET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to receiving child pornography over the Internet.
Travis S. Cook, 37, of Kansas City, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan this afternoon to a federal information that charges him with receiving child pornography over the Internet.
In February 2008, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement began investigating an Internet forum dedicated to the distribution of child pornography with hundreds of members. According to today’s plea agreement, Cook was a member of the forum and posted comments to the forum such as, “I wish that 11-year-old girls could work at strip clubs.”
Federal agents contacted Cook at his apartment on March 13, 2009. Cook refused to talk to the agents, to allow them to look at his laptop or to enter his apartment, and shut the door. After the agents went downstairs to make a phone call to inquire about obtaining a warrant to search the apartment, one of the agents returned to Cook’s apartment to ensure that he did not leave the apartment with the laptop.
Upon entering the hallway outside Cook’s apartment, the agent heard popping sounds as though CDs were breaking in half, and other sounds consistent with items being destroyed, coming from inside Cook’s apartment. The agent repeatedly knocked at Cook’s door and asked him to open the door, but Cook did not respond. The agent found a maintenance man for the apartment complex who opened the door to Cook’s apartment.
Agents noticed numerous papers and CD ROM disks strewn about the floor of the apartment and that the laptop’s monitor had been torn off its hinges. One agent noticed that something was burning in a skillet on the stove, which turned out to be the laptop’s melting RAM memory card.
Agents seized 59 CDs and 13 DVDs, which contained images and movies of child pornography, from Cook’s apartment. Agents also recovered a small black backpack from a bathroom closet that contained 70 to 80 destroyed CD ROM disks; some of those disks contained handwritten notations of common child pornography series. The backpack also contained ripped up printed images of child pornography and ripped up printed pages of erotic stories of sex with children. Investigators also found evidence of child pornography on Cook’s laptop computer. They found thousands of images of children in swim suits, leotards and underwear, including images of child pornography, as well as evidence that child pornography movies and images were recently accessed by the computer.
Agents also executed a search warrant at the Lee’s Summit, Mo., home of Cook’s father, who told them that Cook occasionally used their computer. Investigators found images and videos of child pornography on that computer. The computer also contained evidence that Cook attempted to purchase a subscription to a child pornography Web site but was unsuccessful because his credit card was rejected.
By pleading guilty today, Cook also agreed to forfeit to the government the laptop computer that was used to commit the offense.
Under federal statutes, Cook is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. 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 U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips. It was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Project Safe Childhood
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.
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