SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Joplin, Mo., man was indicted by a federal grand jury today for receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet.
Frank Edwin Ness, 44, of Joplin, was charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo. Today’s indictment replaces a federal criminal complaint that was filed against Ness on July 17, 2014.
Today’s indictment alleges that Ness received and distributed child pornography over the Internet between Jan. 1, 2004, and July 16, 2014.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the original criminal complaint, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Ness’s residence on July 16, 2014, and seized his desktop computer. Investigators found at least 124 videos containing child pornography when they previewed the computer, the affidavit says.
The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require Ness to forfeit to the government any property used to commit the alleged offense, including a desktop computer.
Dickinson cautioned that the charge contained in this indictment is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
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."