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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          July 1, 2013                   

FORMER RIPLEY POLICE OFFICER PLEADS GUILTY TO POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

George Michael Puskas II admits having sexual relationship with a minor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A 31-year-old former police officer pleaded guilty today to possession of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. George Michael Puskas II, of Ripley, entered into a guilty plea in federal court in Charleston. 

Puskas established a sexual relationship with a then 16-year-old minor in March 2010. At the time of the relationship, Puskas produced images and a video of the minor having sex or performing sex acts.  Puskas produced a video of child pornography using a police department-issued digital camera.  Puskas also used a cellphone to create images of child pornography. On September 7, 2011, Puskas possessed between 10 and 150 images of child pornography.         

Puskas was employed as a police officer with the Ripley Police Department from June 2008 until May 2012.  The defendant was an officer with the department at the time of the child pornography violation. Puskas resigned from the Ripley Police Department in May 2012. 

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said, “Mr. Puskas swore an oath to protect and serve the community.  He obviously failed to uphold that oath.  Pedophiles like Mr. Puskas must be held accountable when they commit disgraceful crimes like this one.”

On April 6, 2012, the West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force executed a federal search warrant and seized a computer, a flash drive, and other items that Puskas used to produce child pornography.  Puskas told police that he produced and possessed images of child pornography. 

Puskas also told police that he maintained a relationship with the minor up until the time the individual turned 18 years old.  On September 14, 2011, Puskas sent the individual an image that showed the two of them having sex.  

Puskas faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on October 1, 2013 by United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr.

The West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force conducted the investigation.   Assistant United States Attorney Lisa Johnston is in charge of the prosecution. 

This case was brought as part of U.S. Attorney Goodwin’s ongoing initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse in the Southern District of West Virginia.

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