Gregory J. Haanstad, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, joins Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in announcing Joseph M. Thomas, 43, of Kenosha was convicted on October 13, 2023, in federal court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin for possessing material depicting the sexual abuse of children.
According to court documents, Thomas, who was convicted in 2011 of the repeated sexual assault of a young child, saved and viewed child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on hard drives he stored in his residence from 2017 to 2021. Law enforcement uncovered Thomas’s stash of CSAM after observing that someone accessing the internet from his residence in 2021 appeared to be downloading CSAM over an online file-sharing network. The FBI then obtained a warrant to search Thomas’s residence and seized multiple hard drives and other digital devices, a forensic examination of which revealed evidence that Thomas had used these devices to save and view CSAM and to search for similar material online.
The jury convicted Thomas of one count of possessing child pornography. He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 1, 2024, and faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan J. Paulson for the Eastern District of Wisconsin and Trial Attorney William G. Clayman of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 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 www.justice.gov/psc.
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