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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Former Onslow County Sheriff’s Deputy Sentenced To 78 Months For Receipt Of Child Pornography

WILMINGTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced that in federal court today, Senior United States District Judge James C. Fox sentenced JON JAMES THOMAS, 46, of Jacksonville, North Carolina, to 78 months imprisonment, followed by a lifetime of supervised release.  The Court also ordered THOMAS to register as a sex offender.

THOMAS was named in an Indictment filed on October 15, 2015.  On January 4, 2016, THOMAS pled guilty to one count of Receipt of Child Pornography.

In May 2015, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation in Raleigh, initiated an online investigation related to the distribution and receipt of child pornography (CP) through the Gnutella network, a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing network.  Agents identified and captured the Internet

Protocol address (IP address) of a host computer offering to distribute multiple images of CP.  As the investigation continued, agents made a direct connection to the identified host computer between May 11, 2015, and May 13, 2015, and downloaded 12 files depicting CP.  A subpoena was issued to an internet service provider to identify the subscriber assigned to the captured IP address.  The subscriber identified was THOMAS of Jacksonville, North Carolina. Further investigation identified THOMAS as a deputy with the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office in Jacksonville.

Based on the investigation, a search warrant was obtained and executed on THOMAS’ residence on May 13, 2015.  Agents located and seized two computers at which time the defendant provided an unprotected statement to authorities.  Specifically, THOMAS acknowledged searching for files containing CP through the use of a P2P program.  Lastly, THOMAS indicated that a “couple of hundred” files, both images and videos, were stored on his computer.  

Forensic examination of the defendant’s computer revealed at least 600 images and 1,040 videos which depicted CP.  Furthermore, forensics recovered 112 deleted images from the defendant’s computer.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations (SBI).  Assistant United States Attorney Ethan Ontjes represented the government.

 This case was part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative, a national program aimed at ensuring that criminals exploiting children are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level.  For more information about this important national project, Project Safe Childhood, go to www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Updated June 29, 2016