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Press Release

Former Cobb County Sheriff’s Deputy sentenced to prison for child pornography distribution

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

ATLANTA - Peter Bilardello, a former Cobb County Deputy Sheriff assigned to the agency’s Sex Offender Unit, has been sentenced to federal prison for distributing child pornography online after entering a guilty plea to the charge in August 2022.

“Bilardello’s crimes constitute a horrific breach of the public’s trust,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan.  “Law enforcement officers like Bilardello, who was responsible for protecting the community from sex offenders, bear a special obligation. It is an especially sad day when those who take an oath to enforce laws to protect potential victims actually break the law and victimize instead. The metro-Atlanta law enforcement community remains committed to working collaboratively and quickly to investigate such reprehensible conduct.”

“Every time pornographic images are distributed online, that child is continuously re-victimized,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will not tolerate predators who prey on our children, especially ones like Bilardello, who were sworn law enforcement officers that took an oath to protect the citizens of our community.”

“The public places a great amount of trust in law enforcement officers,” said Cobb County Police Chief Stuart VanHoozer.  “When a law enforcement officer breaks that trust, it reflects on all officers across this profession. I stand with the honorable women and men of the Cobb County Police Department, with Sheriff Owens and those who serve under his command, and with the remainder of law enforcement professionals across this nation who find acts such as these by law enforcement officers abhorrent.  We greatly appreciate U.S. Attorney Buchanan and all our federal partners who allow stronger sentencing and help local agencies like Cobb Police make our community safer.  Finally, to the detectives who must work these types of cases routinely, thank you for doing things even most police officers don’t want to do and thank you for the objective and hard work on this case in particular.”

“Bilardello’s actions erode the trust the public places in law enforcement officers,” said Cobb County Sheriff Craig Owens. “I commend the Cobb County Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their swift action in investigating these heinous crimes and stopping the spread of child pornography. Justice was served, and this sentence makes clear that no one is above the law, especially those sworn to protect and serve the public.”

According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: In August 2021, Cobb County Police began investigating a report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about suspected child pornography distribution online. The report, which was based on information submitted to NCMEC by the social media company MeWe, indicated that a MeWe account user who was located in Marietta, Georgia, had uploaded and shared approximately 12 images depicting young children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Cobb County Police executed a search warrant on the social media account and learned that the account user was Peter Bilardello, who was an active Cobb County Deputy Sheriff. Bilardello had been employed by the Cobb County Sheriff’s office for approximately 17 years. During the time that he was distributing child pornography online he worked in the agency’s Sex Offender Unit where his job duties included maintaining, verifying, and updating the list of registered sex offenders residing in Cobb County.

After identifying Bilardello as the social media account owner, Cobb County Police promptly obtained and executed search warrants for Bilardello’s home and cell phone, and confirmed that Bilardello had uploaded and shared child pornography on MeWe.  Investigators also recovered more than 300 images and videos depicting young children engaged in sexually explicit conduct from his cell phone, as well as multiple chats online about his pedophilic desire for young children. Bilardello was immediately arrested and resigned from the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office.  

Peter Bilardello, 52, of Marietta, Georgia, was sentenced to five years, ten months in prison to be followed by ten years of supervised release. He was taken into federal custody immediately following sentencing and must register as a sex offender. Bilardello was convicted of one count of distributing child pornography on August 29, 2022, after he entered a guilty plea.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Cobb County Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Annalise K. Peters prosecuted the case.

This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In February 2006, the Attorney General launched Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.  Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices around the country, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

Updated December 2, 2022

Topics
Project Safe Childhood