Former Radio Host John Balyo Sentenced to 40 Years in Federal Prison for Child Exploitation
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – Former local radio host John Balyo, 35, of Grand Rapids, was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison today for producing and possessing child pornography. Balyo pled guilty to the charges in July 2014 and, as part of the plea, agreed to cooperate fully with law enforcement in this investigation and the investigation into Ronald Moser. Moser pled guilty in August 2014 to producing and possessing child pornography and is scheduled for sentencing later this month. Balyo’s sentence included a lifetime of supervised release after prison. He will also have to pay $8,500 in restitution to the victims, who the judge recognized will be haunted by Balyo’s actions forever. In delivering the sentence, United States District Judge Robert Holmes Bell stressed the need for a “stern and certain judicial censure” for the “repulsive acts” Balyo committed.
Balyo met Moser online in November 2013, and the two immediately started emailing about a shared sexual interest in young boys. Balyo arranged to meet Moser and a 12-year-old boy three times in April and May 2014 in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek hotels. Balyo showed Moser other child pornography that he produced to prove that he was not a police officer. Balyo rented the rooms and brought a bondage kit containing zip ties, handcuffs, duct tape, rope, and rubber gloves. He also brought his professional grade photography equipment that he used for wedding photography. Balyo and Moser sexually assaulted and photographed the boy on all three occasions. Balyo gave the child a couple hundred dollars for his “modeling career.”
Moser was arrested in early June, through which investigators learned of Balyo. Balyo was arrested on June 20, 2014, while hosting a music festival in Gaylord, Michigan, with his radio station. That same day, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Michigan State Police executed a search warrant at Balyo’s residence and searched his storage unit. Inside the storage unit, investigators found the bondage kit; video cameras; thumb drives; and various news clippings about missing children, children’s obituaries, and child pornography laws. Balyo gave his computer to a friend to hold onto shortly after Moser was arrested, and the friend turned it in to police upon learning of Balyo’s arrest. The computer contained multiple photographs of child pornography, including the ones from the Kalamazoo hotel room.
Balyo was convicted in Calhoun County of Criminal Sexual Conduct, First Degree, and was sentenced to 25-50 years in state prison. It is expected that he will serve his federal and state sentences simultaneously.
“Individuals who prey upon children and create sexually graphic images come from all walks of life, but they will be found and prosecuted. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in West Michigan and our state and federal partners are dedicated to protecting children. Predators should know that taking a single illegal picture exploiting a child means at least 15 years in a federal prison. They could also forfeit the computers, cameras, and even the houses that are used to sexually exploit children. We are committed to securing restitution for the victims to pay for the cost of medical care, counseling, and potential loss of income,” said U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles, Jr.
“Today’s significant sentencing marks an end to a case that tore at the very fabric of this community,” said Marlon Miller, Special Agent in Charge, HSI Detroit. “While no amount of jail time can adequately punish individuals involved in this type of depraved activity, my sincere hope is that the conclusion of this case can begin the healing process for all of those affected.”
The investigation was conducted by HSI, in cooperation with the Michigan State Police ICAC, Battle Creek Police Department, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, and Kent County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tessa K. Hessmiller prosecuted the federal case.
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; 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.