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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Arizona Man Pleads Guilty to Production of Child Pornography

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A Surprise, Arizona, man pleaded guilty yesterday to production of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

According to court documents, from summer of 2021 through March 2022, Elliott Velez, 38, used social media platforms to engage in sexually graphic conversations with girls under the age of 18. During these conversations with the victims, Velez would instruct them to engage in sexually explicit conduct, take photos or videos, and send them to him. Velez would give explicit instructions on what he wanted them to do and who he wanted them to do it with, including other underage individuals. Velez would use a recording device on his phone to ensure that he could keep these videos and images without the victim’s knowledge. Velez is an active duty servicemember who was located in Newport News during the time of his conduct.

Velez is scheduled to be sentenced on March 22, 2023. He faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years and a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison per count, not necessarily consecutively. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Devon Heath is prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, 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 U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (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 www.justice.gov/psc

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Norfolk Child Exploitation Task Force (NCETF), as part of Project Safe Childhood. The NCETF is composed of FBI agents and detectives from the Chesapeake Police Department, Hampton Police Division, and Newport News Police Department. Assistance in this matter was also provided by federal agents from Homeland Security Investigations. The task force is charged with investigating and bringing federal charges against individuals engaged in the exploitation of children. Tips regarding child exploitation can be provided to the task force at 1-800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov.

In 2021, EDVA launched “UnMasked,” a community-based educational outreach and prevention program in Virginia dedicated to raising awareness and educating the community about the prevalence of online sexual exploitation involving children and young adults. UnMasked is a multi-disciplinary partnership of local, state, federal, and non-profit stakeholders. The core curriculum is provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) NetSmartz program. To report an incident involving online sexual exploitation, call 1-800-843-5678 or submit a report at report.cybertip.org. To request an UnMasked event at your school or organization, please contact EDVA’s Community Outreach Coordinator at USAVAE-UnMasked@usdoj.gov.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:22-cr-28.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Contact: 
USAVAE.Press@usdoj.gov
Updated November 23, 2022