SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Nixa, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet.
Michael Wunderlee, 41, of Nixa, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to the charge contained in a Nov. 6, 2013, federal indictment.
By pleading guilty today, Wunderlee admitted that he received and distributed child pornography over the Internet between May 13, 2010, and Feb. 25, 2012.
Federal agents from the National Park Service and the FBI executed a search warrant at Wunderlee’s residence as part of an investigation into another person’s use of a stolen government credit card number of a National Park Service employee. Wunderlee’s computer was seized and transported for forensic examination, which found approximately 139 videos and approximately 23 images of child pornography, including pre-pubescent victims.
Wunderlee admitted that he used file-sharing software to download the images and videos. The software automatically saved the downloaded images and videos to a share folder on his computer and made them available to be downloaded by others using the program.
Wunderlee was arrested on Sept. 30, 2013, and released on bond on Nov. 22, 2013, which included home detention and location monitoring. However, on or about Feb. 28, 2014, in order to avoid prosecution, Wunderlee absconded after cashing out his retirement account at Cox Hospital and leaving a note indicating he intended to commit suicide. On Aug. 6, 2014, FBI agents arrested Wunderlee at a home in Spotsylvania, Va.
Under federal statutes, Wunderlee 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, plus a fine up to $250,000. 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 Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by the FBI and the National Park Service.
Project Safe ChildhoodThis 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."