Watsonville Man Charged With Production, Distribution, Receipt, And Possession Of Child Pornography
SAN FRANCISCO – Anthony Vega-Lobato appeared in court on Friday, December 22, on charges he produced, distributed, received, and possessed child pornography, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin. The appearance follows an indictment handed down by a federal grand jury yesterday.
According to the indictment, Vega-Lobato, 22, from Watsonville, has been involved in the production of child pornography since at least April 14, 2016. The indictment alleges Vega-Lobato produced four video files containing visual depictions of three minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The indictment also alleges that in April of 2017, Vega-Lobato distributed child pornography in interstate and foreign commerce. Further, Vega-Lobato is charged with receiving child pornography at dates unknown until May 18, 2017, and with possessing child pornography until the same date.
In sum, Vega-Lobato is charged in the indictment with four counts of production of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a); one count of distribution of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a)(2); one count of receipt of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2); and one count of possession and access with intent to view child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B).
Vega-Lobato was arrested on Thursday, December 21, and made his initial appearance in federal court on Friday before the Honorable Joseph C. Spero, U.S. Magistrate Judge. He was remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshal and remains in custody. The defendant’s next scheduled appearance is at 9:30 a.m. on December 29, 2017, before the Honorable Elizabeth D. Laporte, U.S. Magistrate Judge, for arraignment and identification of counsel.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 2251, the defendant faces, per count, a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years, a maximum sentence of 30 years, and a fine of $250,000 plus restitution, if appropriate. If convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2), the defendant faces, per count, a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 5 years, a maximum sentence of 20 years, and a fine of $250,000 plus restitution, if appropriate. If convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4), the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years, a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, if appropriate. Additional fines and a term of supervised release also may be imposed, however, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Simeon is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Ryka Barghi. The prosecution is the result of an ongoing investigation by the United States Department of Homeland Security.
If members of the public have any information relevant to this investigation or to suspected child predators or suspicious activity, HSI encourages them to contact HSI through the toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form at https://www.ice.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may also be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.