Fulton Man Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography After Lost Cell Phone Is Turned In
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Fulton, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to receiving and distributing child pornography after his lost cell phone, which contained images of child pornography, was turned in to law enforcement.
Anthony Quin Hodges, 51, of Fulton, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge William A. Knox to the charge contained in a Feb. 15, 2017, federal indictment.
By pleading guilty today, Hodges admitted that he had been viewing child pornography from a variety of websites for approximately two to three years and storing the images on his Google Photos account. Hodges used his cell phone for searching, maintaining and distributing images of child pornography.
Two Fulton residents turned in the phone, which Hodges said had been lost or stolen, to the Fulton Police Department on Jan. 17, 2017, after they found it abandoned in their driveway. Prior to reporting the incident to law enforcement, the residents powered on the phone to try to identify the owner. Upon trying to locate the owner of the phone, they discovered images child pornography. One of the residents also opened the Facebook icon and observed a Facebook page for Hodges. Investigators obtained a search warrant for the phone and discovered pornographic images of prepubescent children as well as links to apparent child pornography websites.
Hodges also admitted sending unsolicited images of child pornography to an individual. Investigators interviewed the individual who received the text message from Hodges, which contained child pornography. The individual reported he received pornographic images of prepubescent females from Hodges on several occasions. He did not solicit these images, and repeatedly told Hodges to stop sending him child pornography. The individual repeatedly warned Hodges it was illegal to possess child pornography.
Hodges was already under investigation at the time his cell phone was turned in to law enforcement. On October 24, 2016, a Boone County Cyber Crimes Taskforce detective received a CyberTip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Google had filed a complaint about an account holder, later identified as Hodges, who uploaded images of child pornography to Google Photos. Shortly after Hodges was identified by law enforcement, his cell phone was turned in to the police department.
Under federal statutes, Hodges 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 Ashley S. Turner. It was investigated by the FBI, the Boone County Cyber Crimes Taskforce and the Fulton, 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."