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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hogsett Announces Kokomo Man’s Petition To Plead Guilty To Distribution Of Child Pornography

Prosecution represents more results in U.S. Attorney’s ongoing "Operation Community Watch"

INDIANAPOLIS - Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced today that Brandon Tooley, age 32, of Kokomo, has been charged by information with one count of distribution of sexually explicit material involving minors. Tooley has filed a petition to plead guilty, along with entering into a plea agreement and stipulated factual basis for the offense. This prosecution comes as the U.S. Attorney’s Office has recommitted to Operation Community Watch, a federal effort which aims to reduce the abuse of Hoosier children through innovative investigative techniques and aggressive prosecution.

“The type of behavior alleged in this case exploits children and will not be tolerated by federal law enforcement,” Hogsett said. “That is why we launched Operation Community Watch last year – to protect Hoosier families and send a message to criminals that they cannot hide online.”

The information alleges that between on or about August 1, 2013 and on or about October 7, 2013, Tooley sent emails to others containing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Court documents indicate that the government has filed a forfeiture allegation identifying computer equipment used in the offense that the government will seek to seize from Tooley if he is convicted.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney MaryAnn T. Mindrum, who is prosecuting the case for the government, Tooley faces no less than five and up to twenty years in federal prison if the Court accepts a guilty plea. Federal law also mandates that individuals convicted of child exploitation pay restitution to their victims. In addition, Tooley faces a sentence of up to lifetime supervised release, and must comply with state and federal requirements as a registered sexual offender.

This arrest comes one year after Hogsett announced a comprehensive crackdown on child exploitation in Indiana. In 2013, he launched "Operation Community Watch," which has allowed prosecutors and investigators to use cutting-edge techniques to identify and charge people in Hoosier communities who are engaged in the receipt and trafficking of child pornography materials. In this case, those efforts were facilitated by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

"The sexual exploitation of children is abhorrent and is one of the most disturbing crimes we investigate at HSI,” said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of HSI Chicago. "Once a pornographic image of a child is shared online, it multiplies and is virtually impossible to remove. Protecting our youth in the digital age requires us all to be vigilant."

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a larger nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Hogsett pointed out that in the last Project Safe Childhood reporting year, the Office prosecuted 52 defendants, an increase of 37% over the prior year, and 49 defendants were convicted and sentenced. These are all-time records for the Office.

The greatest measure of the PSC program's impact, however, is the identification and rescue of child victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. Over the last two years, the U.S. Attorney's Office successfully identified more than 120 child victims, including minors in Indiana, numerous places in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, and other countries around the world.

Led nationally by United States 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.

An information or indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated January 26, 2015