News and Press Releases


Revised - WEDNESDAY - February 13, 2008


NEW BERN – United States Attorney George E. B. Holding announced that in federal court yesterday, Chief United States District Court Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced JOE FOREST ROSS of Fayetteville, North Carolina, to 108 months’ imprisonment and lifetime supervised release for receipt and possession of child pornography in violation of Title 18 of the United States Code, §2552(a)(2) and §2552(a)(4). ROSS pled guilty to the charge in September.

ROSS had paid $79 to become a subscriber to a website that called itself “Illegal.CP” and sold access to extreme images of the sexual abuse of young children. When Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detected the site and took it down in an operation known as Operation Emissary, they discovered records leading to many subscribers, including ROSS. ROSS’ subscription information included his email address, credit card number, and other information showing that the subscription was made from his home. Based on this information, investigators obtained a search warrant for ROSS’ residence and conducted a forensic examination of his computers and related media, revealing that ROSS had amassed a collection of child pornography including over 1,500 images and 70 video files, which consisted largely of prepubescent children between the approximate ages of 6 and 12. One of the children depicted in Ross’ collection wrote a victim impact statement that was read to the court at sentencing.

United States Attorney George E. B. Holding responded to the news of the sentencing:Nothing I could say could more eloquently express the gravity of child pornography crimes than the victim statement read at yesterday’s sentencing. As this child indicated in her statement, every time someone uses one of the pictures of her abuse for their entertainment, she is victimized just as if she were being raped again. We hope that this 9-year prison sentence provide some measure of justice for her and the other children who suffered so that this sick commodity could be traded over the internet.”

ROSS’s case was prosecuted as part of the Justice Department’s Project Safe Childhood initiative, a national program aimed at ensuring that criminals exploiting children are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level. For more information about this important national project, Project Safe Childhood, go to

Investigation of the case was conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Jason Cowley and Jay Exum handled the case for the United States and coordinated prosecution with the Office of the Bladen County District Attorney.


News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at within 48 hours of release.

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