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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Morgan Hill Engineer Sentenced To 59 Months In Prison For Possessing Child Pornography

SAN JOSE, CA—Paul Lawrence Vella was sentenced on January 15, 2015, to 59 months in prison for possession of child pornography, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag, and Tatum King, acting special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Francisco.

On August 4, 2014, Vella pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B).  In pleading guilty, Vella, 60, of Morgan Hill, Calif., admitted that he used his computer to download child pornography through a P2P network and saved those images on hard drives, discs, and other digital medium. Vella also admitted that he knowingly possessed over 600 images of child pornography, including images of prepubescent minors and images portraying sadistic or masochistic conduct. Vella further admitted that law enforcement had identified approximately 86,284 images and 2,162 videos of child pornography, and that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children identified 915 known child victims from his collection of child pornography. Filed documents and statements in open court confirmed that Vella possessed one of the largest collections of child pornography ever discovered in Silicon Valley, including numerous images and videos depicting the forcible rape of, and other sadistic violence against, very young children.

The Honorable Edward J. Davila, U.S. District Court Judge, handed down the 59 month sentence. Judge Davila also sentenced the defendant to a seven year period of supervised release, ordered him to register as a sex offender, to participate in a sex offender treatment program, and to pay $29,500 in restitution. Vella has been in federal custody since he pleaded guilty on August 4, 2014

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Fazioli and Daniel Kaleba prosecuted the case with the assistance of Laurie Worthen. The prosecution is a result of an investigation by HSI and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

Updated January 20, 2015