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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Paralegal Faces Federal Child Pornography Charges

A paralegal employed by the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, has been arrested on federal child pornography charges.   

Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO), made the announcement.

Richard Russo, 54, of Boynton Beach, was charged by criminal complaint with receipt and possession of child pornography, in violation of Title 18, United State Code, Section 2252(a)(2) and (b)(4).  If convicted, Russo faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a statutory maximum term of 20 years in prison.  Russo is currently being detained, without bond, pending further proceedings.  His preliminary hearing and arraignment are scheduled to take place on June 14, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach.   

            According to the court record, including allegations contained in the criminal complaint, beginning in late 2017, Russo, a Paralegal Specialist with Customs and Border Protection began communicating and receiving child pornography from another individual using a cross-platform messaging service.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

A criminal complaint is a formal charge against a defendant.  Under the law, that charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Mr. Greenberg commended the investigatory efforts of the FBI and BSO in this matter.  He also thanked the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Department of Homeland Security - Office of the Inspector General for their assistance.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Corey Steinberg.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Updated June 6, 2018