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Press Release

Joshua Adam Schulte Convicted After Trial Of Multiple Child Pornography Crimes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and James Smith, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the conviction of JOSHUA ADAM SCHULTE of three counts — receiving, possessing, and transporting child pornography — in connection with an encrypted cache of more than 3,000 images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of young children found on the defendant’s home desktop computer.  The defendant was found guilty following a three-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman.  The defendant, a former programmer at the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”), was previously found guilty of four counts of espionage, four counts of computer hacking, contempt of Court, and making false statements to the FBI at previous trials conducted in 2020 and 2022 in connection with the defendant’s commission of the largest theft of classified information in the history of the CIA, which information was disseminated by the website WikiLeaks under the names Vault 7 and Vault 8.  Sentencing on all counts of conviction is scheduled for January 10, 2024, before Judge Furman.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Joshua Schulte has already been held accountable for endangering our nation’s security, and today’s verdict holds him accountable for endangering our nation’s children as well.  The outstanding investigative work of the FBI throughout this investigation revealed Schulte as not only a traitor, but as one who participated in the exploitation and victimization of young children as well.  The career prosecutors in this Office are dedicated to securing justice for the most vulnerable victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith said: "The FBI maintains investigating crimes of violence and sexual abuse against children as a top priority.  The jury's conviction of Joshua Schulte of having knowingly received, possessed, and transported thousands of files of child sexual abuse material will hopefully provide some measure of comfort to Schulte's victims.  Schulte used his expert computer programming skills and training to victimize the most vulnerable members of our society, and the FBI will always vigorously pursue anyone who commits such crimes."

According to court documents and evidence at trial:

While living in Virginia in 2016, SCHULTE built a custom desktop computer, which he used to download and collect more than 15,000 images of child pornography and child erotica.  SCHULTE stored his cache of child pornography in various encrypted locations on the computer.  In or about November 2016, SCHULTE relocated to New York, New York, and transported his child pornography computer with him.  While living in New York, New York, SCHULTE continued to stockpile child pornography from the dark web and Russian websites.

In March 2017, after executing a search warrant for SCHULTE’s apartment in connection with the investigation of his theft of classified information, the FBI recovered and searched SCHULTE’s computer pursuant to another court-issued warrant.  Using passwords identified from SCHULTE’s cellphone that SCHULTE used for a variety of personal accounts, including credit cards, online shopping, and email, FBI computer scientists were able to decrypt SCHULTE’s hidden collection of child pornography.  The FBI determined that SCHULTE had collected and viewed videos and images depicting the sexual abuse by adults of children as young as two years old, including materials depicting sadomasochism and bestiality inflicted on children.

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SCHULTE, 34, of New York, New York, was convicted today of one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of transportation of child pornography, which each carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of possession of child pornography, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.  SCHULTE was previously convicted of one count of gathering national defense information with the intent to harm the United States, two counts of transmitting unlawfully possessed national defense information, one count of attempting to transmit unlawfully possessed national defense information, one count of unauthorized access to a computer to obtain national defense information, one count of unauthorized access to a computer to obtain information belonging to an agency of the United States, two counts of causing transmission of a harmful computer command, one count of making false statements to the FBI, and one count of contempt of Court, which collectively carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The potential mandatory minimum and maximum sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by Judge Furman.  

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding efforts of the Counterintelligence Division and the Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force of the FBI’s New York Field Office, as well as the extraordinary assistance of FBI computer scientists from the Cyber Action Team. 

This case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys David W. Denton Jr., Michael D. Lockard, and Nicholas S. Bradley are in charge of the prosecution, with the assistance of Paralegal Specialist Kayla A. Collins.


Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated September 15, 2023

National Security
Press Release Number: 23-314