News and Press Releases

Prior Sex Offender Pleads Guilty to
Federal Child Pornography Charge

Plea Agreement Requires a 15-Year Federal Prison
Sentence Followed by a Lifetime of Supervised Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 30, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE – John W. Vandermeer, 62, of Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to receipt of a visual depiction of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Vandermeer will be sentenced to 15 years in federal prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release.  Vandermeer also will be required to register as a sex offender.  The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales, Special Agent in Charge Dennis A. Ulrich, II, of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in El Paso, Texas, and Chief Robert W. Shilling of the New Mexico State Police (NMSP).

Vandermeer was arrested on Dec. 4, 2012, on a criminal complaint alleging that he received and possessed child pornography in Bernalillo County, N.M., between Jan. 2011 and Nov. 2012.  On Dec. 19, 2012, Vandermeer was indicted and charged with three counts of receipt of child pornography and two counts of possession of child pornography.  The indictment alleged that Vandermeer received child pornography from Jan. 2009 through April 16, 2011 and that he possessed child pornography in Dec. 2012, in Bernalillo County.

During today’s proceedings, Vandermeer entered a guilty plea to Count 3 of the indictment charging him with receipt of child pornography.  In his plea agreement, Vandermeer acknowledged that HSI and NMSP executed a search warrant at his residence on Dec. 4, 2012 and seized computers and computer-related media.  The search warrant was issued based on an undercover investigation by the NMSP that began in Nov. 2012, and targeted individuals who possessed, received and distributed child pornography.  The investigation revealed that an IP Address which was subscribed to Vandermeer was being used to download child pornography images and videos through a peer-to-peer file-sharing program.

Vandermeer also acknowledged voluntarily participating in a recorded interview on Dec. 4, 2012, during which he admitted downloading child pornography images and videos of prepubescent children.  Vandermeer also admitted having a prior conviction for raping a child under the age of 14 years from Massachusetts.  According to court filings, during the interview, Vandermeer stated that he moved from Massachusetts to Albuquerque in 1987 after he was convicted of child rape.  Vandermeer also stated that he was involved in Albuquerque theater productions involving children. 

Vandermeer faces the enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum 15 year prison sentence because of his prior sex offense conviction.  He remains in federal custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Vandermeer will forfeit his computers and computer-related media.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of HSI, the Online Predator Unit of the NMSP and the New Mexico Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlyn E. Rees as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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 http://www.justice.gov/psc/.

The case also was brought as a part of the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force’s mission, which is to locate, track, and capture Internet child sexual predators and Internet child pornographers in New Mexico.  There are 64 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies associated with the ICAC Task Force, which is funded by a grant administered by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office.  Anyone with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.

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