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Press Release

Federal, State, And Local Law Enforcement Agencies Unite To Combat Crimes Against Children

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida
Acting United States Attorney Announces Successful Prosecutions Against Child Sexual Exploitation in the Middle District of Florida

Tampa, FL – Acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida (USAO-MDFL) last year charged 84 individuals as part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood (PSC) initiative. Since 2006, this nationwide initiative has collectively marshaled federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, and to identify and rescue victims of abuse. Since the inception of the program, the Middle District of Florida has charged more than 1,000 individuals with child exploitation offenses.


“Child predators are using more cunning and persuasive techniques and technologies to lure and exploit innocent children,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Muldrow. “The individuals who prey upon children are becoming bolder and more violent and must be stopped. As a community, we also must educate ourselves and raise awareness on how to best protect our children against these threats. We are thankful to the men and women who investigate, prosecute, and seek justice for these victims.

In 2017, the USAO-MDFL, in partnership with numerous federal, state, and local agencies, brought charges against various individuals for traveling to engage in sexual conduct with minors, and for producing, advertising, distributing, receiving, possessing, soliciting, and accessing child pornography. In addition, the Office has prosecuted cases involving human trafficking where individuals, including minors, have been forced to commit commercial sex acts and engage in sex tourism. MDFL prosecutors also charged cases involving convicted sex offenders who failed to register with authorities as required by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.


2017 MDFL PSC Case Highlights January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017


Fort Myers Division


U.S. v. William Lee Lee produced a video of himself engaged in sexually explicit conduct with a child. On September 16, 2016, deputies responded to the victim’s residence in Lehigh Acres and made contact with the girl and her mother. The child’s mother provided Lee’s deactivated phone to the deputies. Pursuant to a search warrant, a forensic examination of the phone revealed two videos capturing Lee engaging in explicit conduct with the girl. Lee pleaded guilty to production and possession charges. On October 2, 2017, he was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.


U.S. v. Jorge Guerrero-Torres – While residing with a family in Fort Myers, including four children, Guerrero-Torres used his cellphone to take sexually explicit photos of one of the children. Shortly after moving out, he became a person of interest in the disappearance of the child that he had photographed and attempted to flee the area. He was apprehended by law enforcement and the images were recovered from his discarded phone. A federal jury found Guerrero-Torres guilty of producing and possessing child pornography and, on August 14, 2017, he was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.


U.S. v. Brian Author Thomas – During an FBI Task Force investigation, agents were able to download images and videos of child pornography from Thomas’s computer using a file sharing program. Agents executed a search warrant at his home and seized his laptop computer and cellphone. Forensic analyses of the electronic media revealed that from at least July 18, 2012, through March 30, 2016, Thomas had collected more than 6,000 images and 35 videos depicting young children engaging in sexually explicit conduct. His cellphone also contained videos that he had produced of a child engaging in sexually explicit conduct. On February 23, 2017, Thomas pleaded guilty to producing child pornography. On August 7, 2017, he was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.


U.S. v. Joseph Spradlin An FBI Task Force officer was able to download images and videos of child pornography from Spradlin’s computer using a file-sharing network. A search warrant was executed at his residence and agents located more than 65,000 images and 668 videos of child pornography on four separate thumb drives. Further investigation revealed that Spradlin had produced child pornography images and videos of an 8-year-old girl on at least two occasions. He pleaded guilty to producing and possessing child pornography, and on March 20, 2017, he was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.


Jacksonville Division


U.S. v. Chad Theodore Dillon – As part of an undercover investigation to identify users of an app who were attempting to entice and sexually exploit children, an agent from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement published a post purporting to be from a 13-year-old child. Within a few minutes, the agent received a private message from “Ice Whale,” that initiated a conversation between the two. “Ice Whale,” later identified as Dillon, repeatedly solicited the “child” for sexual acts. He also offered to have sex with the “child’s” 12-year-old “friend,” who he believed to be sleeping over at the “child’s” house. Dillon claimed that he had had sex with 12-year-olds a “couple times,” and he provided his cellphone number to the “child.” Dillon ultimately declined to meet the “child” for the sexual encounter they had previously discussed. However, further investigation revealed that Dillon had previously solicited a 13-year-old girl online to produce nude images of herself. During the execution of a search warrant, agents found chat messages revealing that Dillon had traveled to Georgia to have sex with a child, and had enticed another child to produce child pornography and to meet him for sex. Dillon pleaded guilty to coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity. On September 6, 2017, he was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.


U.S. v. Justin Laurence McKinley McKinley, a Jacksonville resident, communicated online via a video streaming program with individuals in eastern Europe who molested young children for broadcast over the Internet. This sexual abuse was live-streamed to McKinley and others in the United States. Over a two-year period, McKinley paid the abusers more than $31,000 for these live “sex shows.” FBI agents executed a search warrant at McKinley’s home and seized computer media that contained, among other things, videos depicting the child sexual abuse that he had commissioned and paid for. The victims depicted in the videos ranged in age from a newborn to an 8-year-old child. Forensic analyses of McKinley’s computer media revealed that his external hard drive contained at least 613 videos and 6,846 images depicting the sexual abuse of children. McKinley pleaded guilty to advertising for child pornography and was sentenced on July 20, 2017, to 30 years federal in prison.


U.S. v. Wilfrido C. Baldera – In March 2016, detectives from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office began investigating possible child exploitation offenses after they had identified an IP address that was a prolific sharer of child pornography. Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) obtained a search warrant for the address associated with the IP address, Baldera’s residence. Baldera admitted that he had viewed and downloaded child pornography and acknowledged his attraction to young girls. He told agents that he had visited Walmart to look at girls between the ages of 8 and 16 who “put it out there” for sexual arousal, before going home to his wife and described it as being better than going to a strip club. A forensic review of Baldera’s devices revealed videos and photographs that he had produced depicting him raping a 10-year-old girl. Baldera pleaded guilty to producing child pornography and, on October 4, 2017, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison. He also faces capital sexual battery charges filed by the State Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville.


U.S. v. Andrew Ryan LeslieLeslie was an information technology specialist and part-time babysitter in Middleburg, Florida. During an investigation by ICE-HSI into websites known to host images and videos depicting child pornography, Leslie was identified as a member of one of the sites. When law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at his residence, Leslie had a two-year-old child in bed with him, who the agents then rescued. A digital camera located next to Leslie’s bed had an SD card containing a series of images depicting Leslie engaged in sexual acts with two different children. Several of the images were of the child that had been in bed with Leslie that morning. Other images depicted a different child, who was less than a year old, being sexually abused by Leslie. Forensic analyses of Leslie’s other digital media items revealed that he had produced, received, distributed, and possessed numerous images and videos depicting child pornography. Leslie pleaded guilty to two counts of producing child pornography. His sentencing is set for January 30, 2018, where he faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years, up to 60 years, in federal prison.


U.S. v. Kyle Adam KirbyKirby was a sergeant with the Live Oak Police Department (LOPD). Following an undercover online child exploitation investigation, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Kirby’s home. They also consensually obtained his patrol car computer and an LOPD desktop computer that he had used. During the investigation, Kirby unsuccessfully solicited another officer to delete evidence from the desktop computer. A forensic examiner recovered several deleted thumbnail images of child pornography from the computers, including images of two children that Kirby had produced using hidden cameras. After using his patrol car computer to access and share videos of child pornography, Kirby used a wiping program in an attempt to delete the evidence. On December 7, 2017, a federal jury found Kirby guilty of producing, attempting to produce, possessing, and accessing child pornography. His sentencing is scheduled for March 21, 2018. He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years, up to 120 years, in federal prison.


Ocala Division


U.S. v. Thomas Edward Abney, Jr. Abney used his cellphone to produce pornographic images of a two-year-old relative, which he then traded online for other child pornography images. In June 2017, Abney communicated with an undercover agent using an Internet messaging service and claimed that he had performed oral sex on the same child. He sent the agent a link to an 11-minute video depicting child pornography. After his arrest, Abney admitted that he had used his cellphone to produce, distribute, receive, and possess child pornography, including the images of a relative. Abney pleaded guilty to producing and transporting child pornography and will be sentenced in January 2018. Due to his prior state convictions for qualifying child sex offenses, he faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years, up to 90 years, in federal prison.


Orlando Division


U.S. v. Meinrad Kopp Between April and June 2017, Kopp communicated via the “dark web” with a law enforcement officer, posing as the father of a 13-year-old child, about engaging in sadistic sexual activities with the child. He stated that he wanted to humiliate and inflict severe pain on the child for his sexual gratification by treating her like a dog and torturing her with certain instruments he intended to bring with him. According to Kopp, he had previously beaten an 11-year-old child using a leather belt. On June 16, 2017, Kopp flew to Orlando and was arrested. Inside his luggage, he had packed weights, clamps, rope, tape, a bottle brush, and a flashlight that he intended to use on the minor, along with a camera to record his activities. Kopp pleaded guilty to attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity and was sentenced on December 13, 2017, to life in federal prison.


U.S. v. Billy Leon Dyer Between June 2016 and February 2017, Dyer induced at least three teenage girls to engage in sexually explicit conduct so that he could produce child pornography. He paid the girls, who were between 14 and 15 years old, $140-$200 each time he had sex with them. Sometimes, he gave them drugs in exchange for sex. Agents discovered Dyer’s conduct after he discussed the details during jail calls that he made to adult inmates at the Brevard County Jail. In March 2017, law enforcement officers conducted an undercover operation using an undercover officer posing as an adult woman online. The “woman” said that she was unable to have sex with Dyer, but referred her 15-year-old cousin. Dyer told the “woman” that he would pay her a $40 finder’s fee for referring her “cousin,” and that he would pay her “cousin” $150 to have sex with him. When Dyer arrived to meet the “cousin,” agents arrested him. On his phone, computer, and thumb drive, agents located more than 170 images depicting the teen girls that Dyer had engaged in sex with at his house. Dyer pleaded guilty to producing images depicting child pornography and on December 20, 2017, he was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison. He was also ordered to forfeit his residence and the vehicle that he had used during the offense. 


U.S. v. Jamie P. Esposito Esposito sexually abused a 7-year-old child once or twice a month over an 18 to 24 month period and chronicled it with photos and videos that he then shared with several individuals online. When agents executed a search warrant at Esposito’s home, they found more than 2,700 images of child pornography, including the images and videos that he had produced. In July 2016, Esposito brought the child to Tampa to be sexually abused by Richmond McDonald and Shauna Boselli, who were later separately charged in Tampa. Esposito took photos and video of the abuse. On August 15, 2017, Esposito was sentenced to 75 years in federal prison for producing child pornography.


U.S. v. Michael Michalak During the course of several months, Michalak sent links to thousands of images and videos depicting child pornography to an FBI agent who was acting in an undercover capacity on social media. The victims in the images and videos included infants, toddlers, and other young children. Michalak had also sexually assaulted several children, including a preschooler, prior to the commission of these offenses. Michalak pleaded guilty to transporting and distributing child pornography. On February 23, 2017, he was sentenced to 36 years and 8 months in federal prison.


Tampa Division


U.S. v. Richmond McDonald and Shauna Boselli – This couple engaged in abusive sexual activity with a 7-year-old child, with the consent and in the presence of the child’s relative. McDonald and Boselli met the relative, Jamie P. Esposito online and engaged in explicit conversations regarding sexual acts with the child. Esposito brought the child to Tampa to meet McDonald and Boselli. After spending time at the zoo and taking the child for ice cream, McDonald and Boselli sexually abused the child at their Tampa home while Esposito watched. Two days later, McDonald and Boselli met Esposito and the child at their hotel, where the couple continued the sexual abuse. A search of McDonald and Boselli’s residence revealed more than 1,300 images and videos of child pornography, including some with the child victim that Esposito had taken. McDonald and Boselli pleaded guilty to enticing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct. They were sentenced to life imprisonment and 40 years in federal prison, respectively. Esposito was charged with producing child pornography in the Orlando Division and was sentenced to 75 years in federal prison (see above). 

U.S. v. Nathan Madsen Madsen requested and negotiated a price to have sex with a 14-year-old girl, took steps to verify the minor’s existence, and met with and paid an undercover agent to have sex with her. During a search of Madsen’s electronic devices following his arrest, agents discovered that he had persuaded a 16-year-old girl to produce and transmit explicit images and videos, some of which depicted violent, sadistic, or masochistic conduct, for him. Madsen pleaded guilty to enticing a child to produce child pornography and possession of child pornography and was sentenced to 17 years and 6 months in federal prison.  

U.S. v. David Paul Lynch According to evidence presented during trial, Lynch traveled to the Philippines regularly between 2005 and 2016 to have sex with children and make recordings of the abuse. Prior to his trips, he communicated online with “facilitators” in the Philippines to locate children to exploit. He produced child pornography of at least three Filipino children on these visits, and he solicited child pornography via email of a fourth. In December 2016, Lynch was arrested in San Francisco while attempting to board a flight to the Philippines. Simultaneously, FBI agents executed a search at his home in Venice, Florida, and located dozens of self-produced images and videos of child pornography accumulated during his trips abroad. In October 2017, a federal jury found Lynch guilty of eight counts of production of child pornography, two counts of sex tourism, one count of receiving child pornography, and one count of possessing child pornography. He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 14, 2018. He faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years, up to 30 years, in federal prison for each production count, up to 30 years’ imprisonment for each travel count, a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years, up to 20 years, for receiving child pornography, and up to 10 years in prison for possessing child pornography.


U.S. v. Robert WareAccording to court documents, in December 2011, Ware produced three images of child pornography depicting “E.F.,” who was 18 months old at the time, and sent them to an individual in New York. The investigation of Ware began after law enforcement agents in New York discovered the images of “E.F.” on another defendant’s phone and traced them to Ware. “E.F.’s” mother reported that Ware, a relative, had babysat for the victim during the time the photos were taken. She also recognized the bedding in two of the images as matching that in Ware’s bedroom. Ware pleaded guilty on December 20, 2017, to producing child pornography. His sentencing date has not yet been set. He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years, up to 30 years, in federal prison.


U.S. v. Paul Fabrizio Solis In February 2017, undercover FBI agents located a user, later identified as Solis, who was sharing numerous images of child pornography on a file-sharing network. During the execution of a search warrant, agents learned that Solis had taken explicit photographs of a 5-year-old that had been entrusted to Solis’s care by a longtime family friend. Solis kept the photos on a thumb drive in a locked safe in his home. In addition to these images, Solis had more than 4,000 videos and images of child pornography on his laptop computer. Solis pleaded guilty in November 2017 and will be sentenced in February 2018. He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years, up to 40 years, in federal prison for producing and possessing child pornography. 

Updated October 22, 2020

Project Safe Childhood
Human Trafficking