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Press Release

Panama City Man Sentenced to 84 Months in Prison for Federal Child Pornography Crimes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Florida

PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA – Gerald Michael Ward, 31, of Panama City, was sentenced to 84 months in prison and a lifetime of supervised release yesterday after pleading guilty on December 15, 2016, to receipt and distribution of child pornography. The sentence was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.


In September 2016, law enforcement officers became aware that child pornography had been posted in an online chat room, which was traced back to Ward. A search of Ward’s e-mail accounts and electronic devices revealed dozens of images and videos of child pornography, including a girl as young as two years old, bound by her wrists and tied to a bed, in addition to the discovery of images of infants being sexually assaulted. Ward also distributed at least 160 images of child pornography online to various others engaged in the trafficking of child pornography.


“Children deserve to be protected from online exploitation, and my office and our law enforcement partners are committed to pursuing child predators who target innocent children,” said United States Attorney Canova.


“Seeing this criminal behind bars is a satisfying outcome for HSI special agents, who work diligently to identify child sexual predators and bring them to justice,” said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. “The sexual exploitation of children is a despicable crime and there are serious consequences. HSI remains committed to working with all of our law enforcement partners, as in this case with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, to aggressively pursue those who victimize the most vulnerable members of our society, our children.”


The case was investigated by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher J. Thielemann.


The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit

For more information, contact:

Amy Alexander, Public Information Officer

(850) 216-3854,

Updated March 3, 2017

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