News and Press Releases

Former Capitol Police Officer Sentenced to 60 Months for Distributing Child Pornography

October 21, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Dennis Craig Bell, 55, of Woodbridge, Va., was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for distributing child pornography.

            Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; John G. Perren, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office; and Chief Douglas W. Keen of the Manassas City Police Department, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge James C. Cacheris.

            Bell pled guilty on Aug. 4, 2010, to distribution of child pornography. According to court documents, Bell was identified by law enforcement in December 2009 using a peer-to-peer network to distribute files containing child pornography. Bell admitted that he downloaded child pornography while employed as a U.S. Capitol police officer but, after reading news accounts of people getting into trouble at work for engaging in that type of criminal activity, he limited his criminal activity at home.

            Bell saved child pornography in folders on his computers designated for sharing on the Internet and on removable storage devices.  Bell admitted that he liked viewing children of all age ranges and had downloaded child pornography at residences in Woodbridge and Fairfax, Va., as well as at work. A forensic review of his computers found 165 videos and 103 still images of child pornography. According to court documents, many of the saved images depicted prepubescent children.  Bell retired from the Capitol Police after his arrest.

            This case was investigated by the Manassas City Police Department, the FBI Washington Field Office and the Northern Virginia/D.C. Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.  Assistant United States Attorney Jerry Smagala is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

            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 (CEOS), 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

            A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on



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