April 12, 2010
POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY LEADS TO PRISON TERM FOR HOUSTON MAN
(HOUSTON) - Keith Nathan Symmank, 48, of Houston, has been sentenced to prison for possessing child pornography, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore sentenced Symmank to 78 months in federal prison without parole for the possession of child pornography conviction to be followed by a 10 year-term of supervised release during which he must register as a sex offender and abide by a number of special conditions strictly limiting his access to the Internet and prohibiting contact with minors.
The investigation leading to the charges, arrest and ultimately Symmank’s conviction was conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and investigators in the United Kingdom (UK) after they identified a website used to post images of child erotica. The website also served as a meeting place for individuals with a sexual interest in children and allowed members to communicate with each other and to post comments concerning the posted images. The UK investigators were able to get a copy of the server and to identify members of the website. Symmank was one of those identified. Members of the website earned “points” that allowed them more access by posting images and comments on the website.
The e-mail address associated with Symmank on the website was traced to him and his Houston residence. Houston ICE agents secured a search warrant for Symmank’s residence which they executed on Oct. 1, 2008, at which time agents located two desktop computers, one external hard drive and a number of CDs. A forensic analysis of the items seized resulted in the discovery of images of child pornography on one of the desktop computers, the external hard drive and three CDs. A total of 2417 images and two videos were found.
Symmank has admitted that he had visited the UK website, to downloading images from websites associated with child pornography and to fantasizing about the child pornography images he has seen.
Symmank has been in federal custody since his January 2009 arrest and will remain in custody to serve his sentence.
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 is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stabe.