Jury convicts former Missoula resident of child pornography crimes
MISSOULA — A jury today convicted a former Missoula resident of transporting, distributing and receiving child pornography using the internet and social media, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
After a three-day trial, the jury found Taurean Jerome Weber, 39, formerly of Missoula and currently of Littleton, Colorado, guilty of all eight counts, including four counts of transportation of child pornography, three counts of distribution and one count of receipt of child pornography. The trial began on July 11. Weber faces a mandatory minimum five years to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to life of supervised release.
U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided. Judge Christensen set sentencing for Nov. 18. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Weber was remanded into custody pending further proceedings.
“Weber’s distribution of child pornography perpetuated the sexual exploitation and abuse of children for his own gratification. It was wrong and disgusting. We are committed to protecting children from this horrible crime and will be resolute in our efforts to hold those who prey on them accountable. I want to thank Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cyndee L. Peterson and Karla E. Painter, along with the Missoula Police Department, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and FBI for investigating and prosecuting this case,” U.S. Attorney Laslovich said.
In court documents and at trial, the government alleged that from about September 2016 to July 2020, Weber used Dropbox and Instagram to transport child pornography images and a computer to distribute child pornography. An investigation began in October 2019 when Instagram reported child pornography on its platform to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which sends those CyberTips to members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for investigation. Records obtained through subpoenas and search warrants found evidence that Weber was the creator and user of the social media and email accounts. Investigators served a search warrant on Weber’s residence, seized computers and storage devices and determined they contained video and image files depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cyndee L. Peterson and Karla E. Painter are prosecuting the case, which was investigated by Missoula Police Department Det. Katie Hall, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and FBI.
This case was initiated under the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood initiative, which was launched in 2006 to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children. Through a network of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and advocacy organizations, Project Safe Childhood attempts to protect children by investigating and prosecuting offenders involved in child sexual exploitation. It is implemented through partnerships including the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The ICAC Task Force Program was created to assist state and local law enforcement agencies by enhancing their investigative response to technology facilitated crimes against children.