Placeholder Banner Image

News Release
U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island

September 20, 2o11


Defendant ordered to post warning signs prohibiting minors
from entering his business establishment without adult supervision

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A Portsmouth, R.I., man was sentenced Monday in federal court to 72 months in federal prison followed by lifetime supervised release for receiving and possessing more than 1,100 images and videos of child pornography. Thomas O’Brien, 51, was also ordered by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith to continue an earlier court order that he post warning signs on his Newport Dive Shop business that minors are prohibited from entering the establishment without the supervision of an adult. O’Brien pleaded guilty in March 2011.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.

According to court records and information presented to the Court, in August 2008, based on information provided to the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) by law enforcement authorities in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada, investigators were led to a “teen modeling” website that facilitated meetings between child pornography collectors and the defendant, Thomas O’Brien. 

On August 18, 2008, O’Brien consented to a search of his home and a forensic preview of digital media in his home including computers. On August 20, 2008, acting on a state search warrant, ICAC and FBI agents executed a complete search of the defendant’s digital media which revealed more than 1,100 images and videos of child pornography. 

During voluntary interviews with investigators, the defendant described a relationship with a minor who lived in Kansas City, Missouri, which began in June 2005 through an Internet chat room. O’Brien admitted to sending the minor cash and providing the minor with an Internet camera which was used to provide O’Brien with pornographic pictures and videos of the victim and a friend of the victim.

O’Brien was arrested in September 2010 and released on $50,000 unsecured bond. At the time of his initial court appearance, as a condition of bail, O’Brien was ordered by the Court to have no contact with minors, including at his business. The Court ordered O’Brien to post warning signs that minors are prohibited from allowing entering his business establishment unless accompanied by an adult.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly. O’Brien has been ordered to begin serving his prison sentence by October 11, 2011.

The Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is a Department of Justice grant-funded program administered by the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit, comprised of five State Police detectives, detectives from the Providence Police Department, West Warwick Police Department, Coventry Police Department and an agent from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations (ICE). The objective of the RI ICAC Task Force is to form strong working relationships between local, state and federal law enforcement in order to effectively and efficiently prevent, detect, investigate, and prosecute online child exploitation and child pornography crimes.


Contact: 401-709-5357

USAO Homepage
USAO Briefing Room
Justice 101
USAO In the Community

USAO RI Twitter

Stay Connected: Visit us on Twitter

Federal Child Support Enforcement

judge's gavel

Learn More


How to File a Complaint

Project Safe Childhood

Help us combat the proliferation of sexual exploitation crimes against children.

Project Safe Neighborhoods

Our nation-wide commitment to reducing gun crime in America.

Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee

Training and seminars for Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Agencies.