Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Neosho businessman pleads guilty to child pornography charge

(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

A Neosho, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to receiving and distributing child pornography.

Blake Altman, 33, of Neosho, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to the charge contained in a June 16, 2015, federal indictment.

By pleading guilty today, Altman admitted that he received and distributed child pornography over the Internet from Aug. 14 to Oct. 1, 2014. Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Altman’s residence after he was identified in an undercover investigation into the distribution of child pornography via peer-to-peer file-sharing software. Undercover officers downloaded images and videos of child pornography from Altman’s computer. Officers seized Altman’s laptop computer, which contained images and videos of child pornography.

Under federal statutes, Altman 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 James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force.

(From the October 14, 2016 Turner Report)

The government made the following argument for keeping Altman, former manager of Sam's Cellar in Neosho, behind bars while he awaits trial:
The defendant was utilizing peer-to-peer file sharing software to receive and distribute images and videos depicting child pornography. The imagery in question depicted children, some as young as infants, engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The defendant, at the time of the search warrant, possessed a rifle loaded with armor piercing bullets, two sets of body armor, and a Kevlar helmet.

The defendant was accused by a family member of inappropriately touching her when he was 16 years old. The accusation was never reported to the police. The defendant told the investigators that his preference was for girls between 10 and 14 years old. This case involves a minor victim..The evidence against the defendant is overwhelming

The indictment came more than eight months after a search warrant was executed on Altman's arrest, which was noted in the October 3, 2014 Turner Report, posted minus Altman's name before his arrest:

A search warrant request filed in the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri indicates child pornography had been traced to an IP address belonging to a Neosho businessman.

The affidavit, written by Joplin police officer Charles Root, working with the FBI as a member of the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, detailed the reasons the search warrant was being requested:

On August 14, 2014, Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force Officer James Smith conducted an undercover investigation into the distribution of child pornography. Utilizing an undercover computer, TFO Smith was able to make a direct connection with the target computer and browse the files available for sharing.

The target computer contained approximately 116 files believed to contain depictions of child pornography.

Smith was able to download 33 of the files, according to the affidavit:

Each of 33 files downloaded depicted minors, some as young as infants, engaged in sexual contact or posed in a sexually explicit manner. The imagery depicted minors engaging in such sexual acts as sexual intercourse and digital penetration of the minors' anus and vagina.

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