Rhode Island State Probation Officer Convicted On Child Pornography Charges
PROVIDENCE, R.I. –A Rhode Island state probation officer assigned to the sex offender unit was convicted by a federal court jury in Providence on Monday on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography. Gerald J. Silva, 59, of Coventry, was convicted on six counts of receiving child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Shelly Binkowski, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division; Coventry Police Chief Bryan J. Volpe; and Colonel Steven G. O’DonnellSuperintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.
A joint investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Toronto Police Service, dubbed Operation Spade, resulted in the discovery of more than 10,000 customers who had videos shipped to the United States. Silva was arrested in September 2012 by U.S. Postal Inspectors when the investigation revealed that Silva was among the list of individuals who had purchased videos depicting child pornography from a Toronto based company and had the videos shipped to addresses in the United States.
According to the government’s evidence presented to the jury during nearly three days of testimony, in May 2011 Toronto Police Service detectives executed a court authorized search warrant at the business premises of Azov Films, which was producing child pornographic DVDs and selling them in over 90 countries. Detectives obtained Azov Films’ business records, which revealed that Silva was a customer.
The evidence revealed that between October 2011 and April 2012, Silva purchased 75 different videos depicting child pornography in 22 separate orders for $1,589 via the Toronto company's website. The videos, depicting minor and prepubescent males involving the lascivious exhibitions of the genitals, were shipped to Silva’s Coventry residence.
According to the government’s evidence, Postal Inspectors, assisted by Coventry Police and Rhode Island State Police troopers and officers from the Internet Crimes Against Children task force, executed a court authorized federal search warrant at Silva’s residence on September 27, 2012, at which time they seized numerous DVDs depicting child pornography and a laptop computer.
Silva argued to the jury that he ordered and collected the videos as part of a project he had undertaken in his role as a state probation officer. The jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges after less than one hour of deliberations on Monday afternoon.
Receipt of child pornography is punishable by a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison and up to lifetime supervised release; possession of child pornography is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison.
Silva is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith on May 16, 2014. At the Government’s request, Silva was ordered detained following his conviction.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”
To assist the media and the public, a glossary of federal judicial terms and procedures is available at http://www.justice.gov/usao/justice101/