Santa Fe man gets 85 years for multiple child pornography convictions
GALVESTON, Texas – A 40-year-old Houston-area man has been ordered to federal prison for the statutory maximum on all convictions for production, distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography as well as attempted destruction of evidence, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Keith Prescott Gace had pleaded guilty to all but the production charges. He proceeded to trial on that allegation in November 2019. A jury sitting in Galveston returned a guilty verdict on that charge after a two-day trial and approximately one hour of deliberation.
Today, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown sentenced Gace to 360, 240, 240 and 120 months for the production, distribution, receipt and possession convictions, respectively. He also received 60 months for the attempted destruction of evidence. Each sentence is the statutory maximum for the crime of conviction. The sentences will all run consecutively for a total 1,020 months of imprisonment.
At the hearing, the court heard trial testimony and was given additional information including child victim interviews detailing Gace’s sexual abuse. In handing down the sentence, the court noted how Gace victimized one of the victims and that the sentence reflected the seriousness of the offense, provided just punishment, protects the public and hopefully sends a message of deterrence to such criminal conduct. Gace will serve the rest of his life on supervised release following completion of his prison term, during which time he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the internet. He will also be ordered to register as a sex offender.
"This individual preyed on the innocence of our most vulnerable population," said Mark Dawson, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston. "With today's sentencing we have removed this predator from the community and sent a resounding message that we are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone who seeks to exploit our nation's children."
During the trial, the jury heard testimony from multiple law enforcement officers and Gace’s ex-wife and her husband.
In October 2016, law enforcement learned that images and videos of child pornography had been posted to a file sharing network. Through investigation, the email and IP address of the account was associated with Gace.
When law enforcement arrived to search his home, Gace attempted to immerse his cell phone under water to prevent access to its contents. That failed and authorities were able to conduct a forensic analysis which revealed hundreds of images and videos of child pornography. It also revealed that Gace used a messaging site to chat with others to receive and distribute images and videos of child pornography and that he had another file sharing account.
Gace’s second account revealed hundreds more images and videos of child pornography, including images that Gace produced of a minor girl under the age of 10. Gace first captured images of the victim fully clothed, but progressed to producing photographs of her sleeping nude, seated naked on the floor with a vibrator next to her leg and an adult hand on her shoulder then finally to posing while nude in Gace’s bathtub. Along with the bathtub photographs, there were also images of Gace naked, standing and seated in his bathtub on the same day.
At trial, the jury also heard Gace had sent a link to a child pornographic image to the cell phone the minor girl and two other children had used.
Gace attempted to convey that the images taken of the minor girl were not lewd and lascivious and, therefore, not child pornography. The jury was not convinced and convicted him for sexual exploitation of a child, otherwise known as production of child pornography.
Gace has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
HSI- Galveston conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force; police departments in Pearland, Galveston, Santa Fe, Webster and La Marque; and Jones Creek Marshals Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zahra Jivani Fenelon and Stephanie Bauman prosecuted the case, which was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section leads PSC, which marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and identifies and rescues victims. For more information about PSC, please visit DOJ’s PSC page. For more information about internet safety education, please visit the resources tab on that page.