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Press Release

Two Child Exploitation Cases: Modesto Man Sentenced And Madera Man Pleads Guilty

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — One defendant was sentenced and one pleaded guilty today in separate child exploitation cases, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

In the first case, Senior United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii sentenced William John Cornelius, 49, of Modesto, to six years and six months in prison, to be followed by 15 years of supervised release, for his conviction for possession of child pornography. According to court documents, between December 8, 2012, and January 11, 2013, Cornelius knowingly possessed more than 600 images of child pornography. Some of the images depicted prepubescent minors and other images depicted violence or sadistic or masochistic conduct. He was also ordered to pay $3,000 to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in Alexandria, Virginia. This case was the result of an investigation by the Ceres Police Department.

In the second case, Ernest Garza Reyes, 31 of Madera, pleaded guilty before Judge Ishii to two counts of receiving child pornography. Between July 2, 2011, and November 13, 2011, he knowingly received or distributed images of child pornography using a computer connected to the Internet. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for November 17, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. At that time Reyes faces a maximum potential sentence, for each count, of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a lifetime term of supervised release. The actual sentence, however, will be determined by the court after considering the federal sentencing guidelines and a number of statutory factors. This case is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Sheriff’s Offices of Madera and Fresno Counties.

Assistant United States Attorney David Gappa prosecuted both cases. They were brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to rescue victims. For more information about PSC, please visit Click on the “resources” tab for information about Internet safety education.

Updated April 8, 2015