California Man convicted of Engaging in Child Exploitation Enterprise
A Modesto, California resident was convicted today after a 10-day jury trial on 14 child exploitation offenses for his role in a child exploitation enterprise, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch of the Eastern District of Michigan.
Justin Fuller, 37, a bridge maintenance supervisor for the California Department of Transportation, was found guilty of one count of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise; one count of conspiracy to produce child pornography; five counts of production of child pornography; one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography; one count of conspiracy to access with intent to view child pornography; and five counts of enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.
According to trial evidence, between Nov. 16, 2013, and March 10, 2016, Fuller and five co-conspirators located in different states worked together to lure juvenile girls to a video chat website in order to get them to engage in sexually explicit conduct. The group members predominantly targeted prepubescent girls and would, unbeknownst to the girls, record the lured young girls performing the sexually explicit conduct. The group was active for approximately two years and communicated with each other through “base” chatrooms that were password-protected. In the base chat rooms, Fuller and co-conspirators strategized how to convince minor females to produce child pornography, including pretending to be teenage boys or girls to help convince the minor females to engage in sexual activity.
The other five co-conspirators each pleaded guilty prior to trial to one count of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise. On June 21, 2016, Virgil Napier, 54, of Waterford, Michigan, pleaded guilty. On July 11, 2016, John Garrison, 52, of Glenarm, Illinois, pleaded guilty. On Feb. 24, 2017, Thomas Dougherty, 54, of Vallejo, California, pleaded guilty. On Sept. 23, 2016, Dantly Nicart, 39, a citizen of the Philippines residing in Las Vegas, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release and $150,000 in restitution on March 2, 2017. On June 21, 2016, Brandon Henneberg, 31, of Diller, Nebraska, pleaded guilty in the District of Nebraska, and on Sept. 14, 2016, he was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, followed by a lifetime term of supervised release and $60,000 in restitution.
Trial Attorney Austin M. Berry of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney April N. Russo of the Eastern District of Michigan are prosecuting the case. The FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Southeast Michigan Trafficking and Exploitation Crimes (SEMTEC) task force investigated the case with assistance from CEOS’s High Technology Investigative Unit.
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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 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 http://www.justice.gov/psc.