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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 12, 2015

North Tonawanda Man Pleads Guilty To Child Pornography Charges

CONTACT:     Barbara Burns
PHONE:        (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051


BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Thomas A. Sparks, 23, of North Tonawanda, N.Y., pleaded guilty to receipt of child pornography, before Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 20 years, and a fine of $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, stated that in June of 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation received a report that Sparks and a friend were downloading child pornography from the internet. On June 26, 2013, the FBI interviewed the defendant’s friend, who admitted that he and Sparks had downloaded child pornography from the internet onto a flash drive.

Later that day, the FBI interviewed the defendant at his residence. At that time, Sparks admitted that he had downloaded child pornography from the internet onto the flash drive. The defendant also admitted that prior to the FBI’s arrival, he smashed the flash drive and threw it in the garbage. Sparks told investigators he got a phone call from his friend alerting him that the FBI was on the way to interview him. The flash drive was recovered from the garbage and was repaired by the FBI. A forensic analysis uncovered approximately 94 images of child pornography stored on the flash drive.  Additionally, as part of the plea agreement, Sparks admitted that he engaged in a pattern of activity involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of a minor.

The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Cheektowaga Police Department, under the direction of Chief David Zack, and the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Michael Cerretto.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 29, 2015, at 3:00 p.m. before Judge Skretny.

Updated January 13, 2015