Middle District Of Florida Brings Over 100 Project Safe Childhood Prosecutions
Tampa, Florida - U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces today that the Middle District of Florida has charged more than 100 defendants in Fiscal Year 2016 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 identify and rescue victims of abuse. In each of the 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country, an Assistant United States Attorney serves as a Project Safe Childhood Coordinator, dedicated to working with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute these cases. During the 10 years the program has existed, the Middle District of Florida has charged more than 950 defendants with child exploitation offenses.
“From the beginning of Project Safe Childhood, the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida has aggressively prosecuted sexual predators who seek to use the Internet to harm and exploit children,” stated U.S. Attorney Bentley. “Working closely with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we will continue to make the prosecution of these cases a top priority.”
From October 1, 2015, through September 30, 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, with the close assistance of local, state, and federal agencies, brought charges against 103 defendants for child exploitation offenses. The charges in those cases vary by defendant, but include attempted enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity; production, distribution, possession and/or receipt of child pornography; and child sex trafficking. These cases (see case summaries) were brought by each of the five offices in the district. The press releases for those cases, and other PSC cases, can be found on our district website.
Project Safe Childhood cases in the Middle District of Florida are investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Marshals Service, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The cases profiled in this release were investigated by those agencies, along with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, the Cape Coral Police Department, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the Cleburne (TX) Police Department, the Cocoa Police Department, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Augustine Beach Police Department, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, and the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
These cases were coordinated by the Middle District of Florida’s Project Safe Childhood Coordinator Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown. Assistant United States Attorneys Robert E. Bodnar, Jr., Emily C. L. Chang, Vincent S. Chiu, Tiffany L. Cummins, Christina R. Downes, Karen L. Gable, Daniel George, William S. Hamilton, Stacie B. Harris, Rachel K. Jones, Amanda Kaiser, Kelly S. Karase, Jennifer L. Peresie, Andrew C. Searle, Ilianys Rivera Miranda, and Yolande G. Viacava prosecuted the cases.
For more information about the cases profiled in this release and other Project Safe Childhood cases throughout the Middle District of Florida, please visit our website. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Project Safe Childhood Case Summaries
Yaisel Rodriguez (25, Cape Coral) was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for production of child pornography. While agents from the FBI were executing a search warrant at his home, Rodriguez disclosed that he had recently ended a two-year relationship with a minor. A forensic examination of his computer revealed videos of the minor victim engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Travis John Jenner (38, Naples) was sentenced to 5½ years in federal prison for distribution of child pornography. Jenner had befriended a minor online and, during a two-year period, received pornographic images of the child. Jenner subsequently distributed child pornography to an undercover detective in a group chat room. As part of his sentence, Jenner was ordered to pay $51,376 in restitution to his victim.
Michael Eugene Williams (59, Jacksonville) has been charged with production of child pornography, sex trafficking of a child, advertising for child pornography, and transporting child pornography. According to court documents, in July 2016, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at Williams’s residence after receiving information that he was uploading child pornography for sharing. A forensic examination of devices seized from the residence revealed that he had been texting with a woman in Texas who was producing pornographic images of her 3-year-old daughter and sending them to Williams in exchange for money. If convicted, Williams faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years, up to life, in federal prison.
Justin Laurence McKinley (49, Jacksonville) pleaded guilty to sending notices over the Internet soliciting the live molestation of children for online viewing. According to court documents, the FBI was investigating a website where individuals in a foreign country molested young children for the purpose of broadcasting live streaming “sex shows” to online viewers who paid a fee. McKinley was identified as a customer. Between January 2014 and December 2015, McKinley sent a total of 100 electronic fund transfers totaling $31,415 to the individuals who molested children in these “sex shows.” He faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years, up to 30 years, in federal prison.
Leonard Leland Walters (44, Green Cove Springs) pleaded guilty to three counts of production of child pornography and one count of transportation of child pornography. Walters had bragged to an undercover officer he met online that he was regularly having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old. Walters offered to assist the undercover officer with sexually abusing the undercover officer’s fictitious 14-year-old “niece,” and he distributed an image of child pornography to the undercover officer. Walters faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years, up to 30 years, on each production count and a minimum mandatory penalty of 5 years, up to 20 years, for the transportation count. His sentencing is set for February 1, 2017.
Kyle Adam Kirby (35, Live Oak) was arrested at the Live Oak Police Department (LOPD), where he was employed as an officer. According to court documents, law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at Kirby’s residence based on an online child pornography investigation. That same morning, the LOPD Police Chief authorized the agents to inspect and search the computer in the patrol car used by Kirby. A forensic examination revealed that it contained at least 87 thumbnail images that either depicted minor children engaged in sexually explicit conduct or that had titles indicative of child pornography or child exploitation. If convicted, Kirby faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years, up to 40 years, in federal prison.
Jon Christopher Stoune (45, St. Johns) was sentenced to 17½ years in federal prison for attempted online enticement of a minor child to engage in sexual activity, advertising for child pornography, and attempted production of child pornography. Stoune had engaged in a series of text conversations with a person he believed to be a 14-year old child but was actually a detective with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. During the conversations, Stoune discussed in detail his desire to have sex with the “child,” engage in sadomasochistic activity, and obtain pornographic pictures of the “child.” Stoune ultimately drove to St. Augustine Beach to meet the “child” for sex and was arrested. He had a digital camera and several sex toys and condoms concealed in his pants pocket. A search of his vehicle revealed a backpack containing a leather whip, a wooden paddle, a billy club, nylon restraints, and other devices designed for use in sadomasochistic activity.
Alan Kenneth Thompson, Jr. (33, Crystal River) was sentenced to 11 years and 4 months in federal prison for distribution of child pornography. After determining Thompson had been using a mobile application to post and receive multiple images of child pornography, federal agents tracked the activity to Thompson’s residence and executed a search warrant. The devices seized from the residence contained more than 4,500 images and 84 video files of child pornography. Thompson told agents that he recently had begun to take non-pornographic photographs of neighborhood children without their knowledge, including more than 3,000 images of a minor girl.
William Edward Spencer (57, Yalaha) pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography. After identifying multiple images of child pornography hosted on the Internet, federal agents traced the activity to Spencer’s residence and executed a search warrant. The devices seized from the home contained more than 2,000 images and 140 video files of child pornography. Spencer admitted to receiving and distributing child pornography, and he now faces up to 10 years in federal prison. His sentencing is set for January 19, 2017.
Joshua Adam Tatro (24, Merritt Island) was sentenced to 350 years in federal prison for production, receipt, and possession of child pornography. On nine separate occasions, Tatro had produced images and videos depicting him sexually abusing a three-year-old child. He also had used a messaging app to send and receive images depicting child pornography and had uploaded images to an online account that he maintained.
Dane Gillis (59, Leesburg) was sentenced to 30 years and 5 months in federal prison for attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, soliciting an undercover federal agent to commit kidnapping, and transmitting interstate commerce threats to kidnap and injure a former co-worker. Gillis had posted an ad on Craigslist stating, “Looking for a guy or group who r into extremely taboo scenes. Hi risk and reward for the right sadistic Pervert.” An undercover agent responded to the ad and stated that he was the father of an 11-year-old daughter. Gillis communicated with the agent through email and text for two weeks and made arrangements to have sex with the “child.” He also solicited the agent to help him kidnap and rape a former co-worker. He was arrested after attempting to meet the “father and child.”
Kennedy Harris, Jr. (23, Cocoa) was convicted by a jury of sex trafficking a child and production of child pornography. Harris had taken in his victim, a 16-year old girl, after she ran away from home. He then took sexually suggestive photographs of her and advertised her for sex on Backpage.com. Harris also enticed the teen to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose photographing her. Over the course of approximately two weeks, the victim had sex with up to eight men per day, giving the money she received to Harris. In exchange for her sex acts, Harris gave the victim crack cocaine nearly every day. Harris is facing a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years, up to life, in federal prison. Sentencing is set for January 9, 2017.
Timothy Michael Sedlak (43, Ocoee) was sentenced to 42 years in federal prison for production and possession of child pornography. Sedlak had taken photographs of himself sexually abusing a small child on two separate occasions. The first incident took place in 2009, when the victim was a year old, and the second incident took place in 2011, when the same victim was three years old. The images of Sedlak abusing the victim were discovered when United States Secret Service agents executed a search warrant on Sedlak’s home as part of an unrelated computer intrusion investigation. In addition to the images of the victim, agents discovered hundreds of images of child pornography on Sedlak’s computers.
Luis Serrano (24, Orlando) was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for production of child pornography. Serrano had befriended a minor victim on a chat website when she was 13 years old and, during the next two years, persuaded and directed her to engage in sexual activity during live video chats that he recorded. Serrano also persuaded the child to record herself engaging in sex acts and send the images to him. When the victim was 16 years old, Serrano convinced her to meet him in person to engage in sex acts, and he took explicit photographs of the conduct. Serrano distributed the pornographic images of the victim to between five and ten individuals.
Ricky Delano Sheppard (59, Melbourne), a former Spessard Holland Elementary School principal, was sentenced to 6 ½ years in federal prison for receiving child pornography. In June 2016, agents had executed a search warrant at Sheppard’s residence. A forensic examination of his computer media revealed thousands of images depicting child pornography, the majority of which depicted young boys, including toddlers, engaging in sexual acts.
Alysia N. Algere a/k/a “Coco” (29, Tampa) was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for sex trafficking three minors. Algere had recruited two minor boys and a minor girl, who were between 14 and 16 years old, to engage in commercial sex acts. She took sexually explicit photos of the minors and posted advertisements on the Internet selling them for sex.
Maurice Williams (26, Tampa) and his brother, Antawan Hudson (31, Tampa), were sentenced to 40 years in federal prison and 30 years in federal prison, respectively, for sex trafficking minors. Williams had conspired with Hudson to traffic underage girls by fraud, force, and coercion in the commercial sex trade. The brothers worked together to post online prostitution ads for the victims and then transported the girls throughout central Florida to have sex with customers. After the victims had sex with the customers, Williams and Hudson took some or all of the money and, in exchange, offered the victims drugs, alcohol, and beauty appointments.
Larry Urwiler (68, Dunedin) has pleaded guilty to enticement of a minor. According to court documents, Urwiler responded to an advertisement posted on Craigslist where an undercover agent posed as a mother of the 13-year-old girl. Urwiler texted the “mother” and indicated that he would engage in sexual activities with the “child” and teach the “child” about oral sex. Urwiler ultimately drove to Lee County to meet the "child." He brought lubricant to engage in sexual activity and a teddy bear for the child. He is facing a minimum mandatory penalty of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison.
Jorge Valencia (43, St. Petersburg) was sentenced to 12 years and 11 months in federal prison for receiving child pornography and attempting to entice a minor. An undercover FBI task force officer had discovered that Valencia was sharing child pornography using an online file-sharing program. A search warrant was executed at his residence and several of his electronic devices were seized. The forensic analyses revealed that Valencia had been using a phone messaging app since at least 2012 to chat with individuals he believed to be under the age of 18 for the purpose of soliciting sexually explicit pictures from them. A large collection of child pornography, including numerous videos and images depicting children under the age of 12, were also found on his devices.