Defendants Used Software that Allowed Anonymous Communication on the Web, Enticed Minors to Send them Sexually Explicit Images, Attempted to Produce Child Pornography, and Used Public Computers at the Library to Obtain Child Pornography
Baltimore and Greenbelt, Maryland – In U.S. District Court in Maryland today, two defendants—one a previously deported alien—were sentenced to federal prison for distribution and possession of child pornography, respectively. Two other defendants—one a previously convicted sex offender—each pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.
The sentences and guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Acting Special Agent in Charge Cardell T. Morant of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Colonel William M. Pallozzi, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans; Baltimore Field Office; Chief Terrence B. Sheridan of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III sentenced Jeffrey Roger Forwood, age 49, of Bel Air, Maryland, to six years in prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release, for distribution of child pornography. Forwood admitted to using a file-sharing program to distribute 38 videos depicting minors, including prepubescent minors, engaged in sexually explicit conduct to an undercover law enforcement officer. On October 25, 2017, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Forwood’s residence. Forwood admitted to searching for, downloading, and watching child pornography using anonymizing software, and a file-sharing program. Forwood further admitted that he used wiping software to delete child pornography from his home computer in order to avoid detection by law enforcement. A forensic examination of Forwood’s computer revealed more than 200 images of child pornography, a log showing downloads of child pornography videos, three separate wiping programs, and other files indicating the existence of the file-sharing program and anonymizing web browser.
Gary Keith Pinkowski, Jr., age 33, of Catonsville, Maryland, who has prior sex offense convictions in Maryland and Delaware, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, which he obtained using public computers at a library. On October 22, 2017, Pinkowski attempted to produce two images of child pornography. A six-year-old boy and his father had been swimming at a recreational facility and went into the locker room to shower. Pinkowski admitted that he reached under a partition between shower stalls and took a photo of the boy, who was showering in that stall. The boy reported this to his father, who notified the facility. Although he had not seen the person in the stall next to the boy, the father noticed a pair of black and green plaid swim trunks hanging over the shower stall. Pinkowski had already left the facility on his bicycle, but staff members recognized the description of the swim trunks as belonging to Pinkowski and provided his description and contact information to Baltimore County Police officers. Officers found Pinkowski near the men’s shelter where he lived and recovered a digital camera containing an SD memory card, a second SD memory card, and multiple USB drives. One of the SD cards contained the photos of the boy, who was showering in his swim trunks, as well as child pornography. Pinkowski admitted that he used one of the USB drives to access child pornography using the public computers at a library. The USB drive contained a file that ran software that permits anonymous communication on the web. Since the library computer would not permit downloads, Pinkowski used his digital camera to take videos or pictures of the computer screen. Pinkowski and the government have agreed that, if the Court accepts the plea, Pinkowski will be sentenced to 24 years in federal prison. Judge Russell scheduled sentencing for Pinkowski on February 15, 2019, at 9:30 a.m.
U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Jimmy Orlando Varela-Reyes, age 25, an illegal alien residing in Aspen Hill, Maryland, to two years in prison, followed by six years of supervised release, for possession of child pornography. Varela-Reyes is a Honduran national who was previously deported on July 9, 2012 and illegally re-entered the United States prior to July 2017. As part of his plea agreement, Varela-Reyes also acknowledged that he is in the United States illegally and that he will be deported upon the completion of his sentence. According to his plea agreement, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a cybertip from Facebook in July 2017 that Varela-Reyes’ Facebook account had been used to entice a female to produce and send sexually explicit images via private message. Investigation showed that Varela-Reyes enticed and coerced a 13-year-old girl to send him the sexually explicit images. After obtaining search warrants, law enforcement determined the location of Varela’s cellular telephone to be a particular apartment in Aspen Hill, Maryland. A federal search warrant was executed at the apartment and Varela-Reyes was present. His cellular telephone was seized and a preview of the phone revealed the photographs provided in the Facebook cybertip.
Frank Crawford III, age 32, formerly of Virginia, pleaded guilty to receipt of child pornography in which he enticed a minor victim to send him sexually explicit photos of herself. Specifically, on May 4, 2017, Crawford communicated with a minor female who resided in Maryland, and persuaded the victim to send him sexually explicit images of herself. Crawford admitted that he and the victim used an interactive live chat service to engage in sexually explicit conduct. Crawford admitted that he knew the victim was a minor. Crawford and the government have agreed that, if the Court accepts the plea, Crawford will be sentenced to between eight and 15 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang scheduled sentencing for Crawford on February 4, 2019, at 2:00 p.m.
As a result of their convictions, all four of these defendants will be required to register as a sex offenders in the places where they reside, where they are employed, and where they are students, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
These cases were all 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 Attorney’s 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.justice.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the “Resources” tab on the left of the page.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI, HSI-Baltimore, the Maryland State Police, the Baltimore County Police Department, the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office, and the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office for their work in these investigations. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul A. Riley, and Jeffrey J. Izant and Sandra Wilkinson, who are prosecuting the Forwood and Pinkowski cases, respectively, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph R. Baldwin, who is prosecuting the Varela-Reyes and Crawford cases.