San Angelo Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Child Pornography Offense Involving Prepubescent Child Pornography
LUBBOCK, Texas — Justin Benedict Morales, 40, of San Angelo, Texas, appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy M. Koenig and pleaded guilty to one count of transportation of child pornography, announced John R. Parker, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
Morales, who remains in custody, faces a statutory penalty of not less than five years nor more than 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date was not set.
According to plea documents filed in the case, in November 2014, Morales used the Internet to send at least eight images of prepubescent child pornography via the online instant messaging client, Yahoo Messenger. Morales used several Yahoo IDs to transport and trade images and videos of child pornography. His laptop computer and hard disk drive were seized when special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) executed a search warrant at his residence in May 2015.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative, which was launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/. For more information about internet safety education, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/ and click on the tab “resources.”
ICE HSI, the Texas Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, and the San Angelo Police Department are investigating. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Sucsy is in charge of the prosecution.
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