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March 13, 2009

HOUSTON ATTORNEY GOES TO PRISON FOR POSSESSION FOR CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

(HOUSTON) - Warren Reid Williamson, 56, a Houston resident and attorney, has been sentenced to 78 months in federal prison for possessing child pornography, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. United States District Judge Sim Lake handed down the prison terms this afternoon. Williamson was also placed on supervised release for a life during which he must register as a sex offender, enroll in a sex offender treatment program, and is prohibited from unsupervised contact with a minor, use of a computer, use of the internet, being employed in any occupation involving minors and must stay 100 feet away from any places frequented by children (e.g. parks, schools, playgrounds).

Williamson pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography Nov. 14, 2008, and has been in custody since his arrest on June 30, 2008.

The investigation leading to the charges against Williamson was initiated in October 2005, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in New Jersey found an illegal child pornography website. On Oct. 26, 2005, an undercover agent purchased a membership to the site and received an e-mail from the child pornography website the next day which provided him with a login ID and password. Agents entered the site and discovered it contained thousands of images of child pornography. 

In January 2006, agents intercepted one of several e-mails from the child pornography site, one of which contained the joining information to get a subscription. The subscriber listed the name as Warren Williamson with an address on Northampton in Houston. Included in this information was his selected login and password. The subscriber also gave a credit card number for membership payment and an e-mail address.

In February 2006, Newark, N.J., ICE agents intercepted another e-mail message containing, again, the joining information for Warren Williamson with an address on Cedarhurst in Houston. He provided the same password, but a different login and credit card for membership payment. On the same day, a third e-mail was intercepted which contained a list of e-mail addresses, including the one provided by Williamson indicating his credit card had been approved. A fourth e-mail, intercepted on Feb. 22, advised Williamson that he would be billed for $79.99 for a 20-day membership and listed his login and password and three websites to be used to enter the child pornography site. Houston agents determined that Williamson did live at the Cedarhurst location.

In February and March 2006, ICE agents conducted an examination of the server for the child pornography site that was located in McLean, Va. During this examination, they located log files indicating Williamson’s e-mail address had accessed the site on Feb. 5 and 6, 2006. It further showed he had viewed or downloaded more than 5,000 images of child pornography from this site. In July 2006, Newark ICE forwarded the information to Houston.

At the same time, ICE headquarters was investigating other commercial child pornography websites. ICE learned, through undercover purchases, that certain Paypal accounts were used by these child pornography websites for people to buy subscriptions to the sites. A search warrant was executed at Paypal for seller and buyer accounts that interacted with the accounts linked to the child pornography sites. Among these records was a subscriber using Williamson’s e-mail account,  the name Warren Williamson and the address on Cedarhurst in Houston. In June 2007, this information was forwarded to Houston.

Paypal records and bank records show three charges to child pornography web sites in January and February 2007. A federal search warrant was issued to Yahoo! for Williamson’s e-mail account. The search warrant did find e-mail advertising child pornography sites and  providing links to those sites. Bank records of Williamson showed nine charges to child pornography web sites between December 2005 and February 2007.

A federal search warrant was issued for the Cedarhurst location and was executed on Nov. 8, 2007. Warren Williamson was present. A computer was seized from Warren Williamson’s bedroom which had a software program loaded on it intended to defeat forensic analysis software used by police and government agencies. In spite of that, during a forensic analysis of Williamson’s computer, agents were able to locate 84 child pornography images on the hard drive and hundreds more that would be considered child erotica. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was sent a copy of all the images and found two known victims in the images. E-mails were located that contained images of child pornography that had been received between July and August 2007.

During earlier court hearings, testimony was introduced showing Williamson had been indicted for sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child in 1999. These felony cases were dismissed when Williamson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge.

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, 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.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stabe.

 

 

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