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GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. announced today that John Richard Balyo, 35, of Grand Rapids, is scheduled to plead guilty to federal charges related to child sexual exploitation. On July 23, 2014, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a two-count felony information. Count One charges Balyo with sexually exploiting a 12-year-old boy by using the child to create pornographic images. Count Two charges Balyo with possessing child pornography images. On July 24, 2014, a plea agreement was filed in the case. The plea agreement provides that Balyo will plead guilty to both counts of the felony information and agrees to forfeit computers, photographic equipment, and material used to sexually abuse or exploit children. In exchange, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will not seek additional charges from a federal grand jury. The arraignment and entry of the guilty plea is scheduled for July 29, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ellen S. Carmody.
The plea agreement provides that Balyo will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and could be sentenced to a combined maximum sentence of 50 years. U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell will determine the final sentence at a date to be scheduled.
This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. The U.S. Attorney's Office; county prosecutor's offices; the Michigan State Police Internet Crimes Against Children task force (ICAC); the West Michigan Based Child Exploitation Task Force (WEBCHEX); and federal, state, and local law enforcement are working closely together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children. Individuals with information or concerns about possible child exploitation should contact local law enforcement. For more information about Project Safe Childhood in West Michigan, including resources for children and parents, visit: http://www.justice.gov/usao/miw/programs/psc.html.
The Homeland Security Investigations, in cooperation with the Michigan State Police ICAC, Battle Creek Police Department, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, and Kent County Sheriff’s Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tessa K. Hessmiller is prosecuting the case.
Balyo has been scheduled to plead guilty but has not yet entered a guilty plea in court. The charges in the felony information are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.