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Mountain grove man pleads guilty to possessing thousands of images, videos of child porn

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 14, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Mountain Grove, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to possessing thousands of images and videos of child pornography.

Ricky Burton Friend, 57, of Mountain Grove, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England to the charge contained in a June 19, 2012 federal indictment.

According to today’s plea agreement, an employee of a computer repair store contacted the FBI when he found child pornography on Friend’s desktop computer. Friend had brought his computer into the store to be repaired after it was damaged in an electrical storm. While working on the computer, the employee discovered the child pornography.

After Friend picked up his repaired computer, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Friend’s residence and seized the computer, two digital cameras and other related items. A child pornography video was downloading to Friend’s computer when the officers arrived to execute the search warrant.

Friend told law enforcement officials that he started downloading child pornography from the Internet approximately 10 to 15 years ago and that he downloaded child pornography daily. Friend used peer-to-peer file-sharing software programs to download child pornography.

A forensic examination of Friend’s computer and other items revealed 2,962 images of child pornography and 175 child pornography videos. Some of the videos and images depicted bondage and bestiality involving minor children and images of child pornography where the victims appear to be under the age of 3 years old.

Under federal statutes, Friend 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. 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 Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert. It was investigated by the FBI, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department and the Wright County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.

Project Safe Childhood

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."

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