Lake County Man Sentenced To 40 Years For Production And Transportation Of Child Pornography
Ocala, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces that U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore yesterday sentenced Thomas Edward Abney, Jr. (38, Leesburg) to 40 years in federal prison for production of child pornography and aiding and abetting the transportation of child pornography. The Court also ordered him to forfeit a cellular telephone used in the commission of the crimes.
Abney pleaded guilty to the charges on September 28, 2017.
According to court documents, in June 2017, Abney, a registered sex offender, contacted an undercover federal agent in an online chatroom frequented by individuals who have a sexual interest in children and incest. Abney sought images of child pornography from the agent and bragged that he recently had traded sexually explicit images of a toddler in his care to another person. Abney also claimed to have committed sex acts with this child and eventually sent the agent a photograph and an electronic link to an 11-minute movie file, all of which contained child pornography.
On June 29, 2017, the FBI executed a federal search warrant at Abney’s Leesburg residence and seized his smartphone. A forensic analysis of the phone showed that it contained sexually explicit images of the toddler that had been in Abney’s care. Abney admitted that he had used the smartphone to produce, distribute, receive, and possess child pornography, including the link to the eleven-minute movie file. He also confirmed that he recently had created and sent sexually explicit images of the toddler to another person over the Internet.
Abney is a registered sex offender in Florida due to multiple prior state convictions involving the use of a child in a sexual performance and the transmission of child pornography.
“The heinous acts committed by this defendant intensify to the FBI’s commitment to identify, investigate, and bring child predators to justice,” said Charles P. Spencer, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “The FBI Jacksonville Division is making every effort to protect our communities from those who target our innocent children."
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.
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 United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.