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Press Release

Missouri Man Sentenced to Serve 30 Years in Federal Prison for Sexually Exploiting Minors

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

CAPE GIRARDEAU – The U.S. Attorney's Office announced that Tony Ray Waites, 47, of Piedmont, Missouri, was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. to 30 years in federal prison for the offense of production of child pornography.

According to court documents, the investigation began in March 2022 when a then 11-year-old boy reported that he had been sexually abused by Waites on multiple occasions. The young boy further reported that he believed Waites recorded the abuse. The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office immediately obtained a search warrant for Waites’ residence.  When officers explained the nature of the investigation, Waites quickly grabbed a knife and cut himself in the throat. He was immediately rushed to the hospital for medical treatment, where his condition stabilized. Meanwhile, officers seized various electronic devices inside Waites’ residence. During an examination of the devices, officers discovered several videos depicting Waites engaging in sexual activity with the 11-year-old boy. The examination further revealed that Waites made sexually explicit recordings of nine additional young boys from the area. At his guilty plea hearing last November, Waites admitted that he produced the video recordings depicting the ten young boys engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

After serving the 30-year sentence, Waites will be placed on supervised release for the rest of his life. Waites will also be required to register as a sex offender.

This case was investigated by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Jack Koester handled the prosecution for the government.

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 the Department of Justice 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


Robert Patrick, Public Affairs Officer,

Updated February 6, 2024

Project Safe Childhood