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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 12, 2019

Former Joplin Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A former Joplin, Mo., police officer pleaded guilty in federal court today to receiving and distributing child pornography.

Gary McKinney, 43, of Joplin, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to the charge contained in an Oct. 24, 2018, federal indictment. McKinney was an officer with the Joplin Police Department for about seven years until May 20, 2006, after which he worked for a short time as a police officer in Webb City, Mo., and Duquesne, Mo.

The investigation began on Sept. 17, 2018, when a federal agent received a CyberTip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Facebook reported that a user had uploaded a video file of the sexual assault of a 4-year-old victim. Law enforcement officers contacted the Facebook user, who at that time was conversing with McKinney using the KIK messaging application.

Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at McKinney’s residence on Oct. 3, 2018, and seized his cell phone. Investigators located 506 images and 148 videos that contained child pornography on McKinney’s cell phone. The examination showed that McKinney used both the Telegram and KIK applications to converse with others and exchange child pornography.

Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, McKinney is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 20 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.

Project Safe Childhood
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc . For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated August 12, 2019