Los Angeles, California - A Riverside man has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for possessing about 100 images depicting child pornography, including sexually explicit pictures of pre-pubescent girls under the age of 12.
James Gregory O’Neill, 58, was sentenced Monday afternoon by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner. O’Neill pleaded guilty in January to possessing child pornography on his mobile phone in the spring of 2015. When authorities discovered the pictures on O’Neill’s phone, he was on parole after being convicted in Riverside Superior Court of possessing matter depicting a minor in a sexual act, a crime that led to a two-year sentence. O’Neill had also been convicted in federal court in 2003 of distributing child pornography, a conviction that brought a 40-month prison term.
The case against O’Neill was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Riverside Police Department.
"Child pornography offenses must be punished,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “These crimes create further demand in child pornography market, which by its nature is based on the exploitation and abuse of children. By deterring demand, we are protecting against future abuse.”
"Every time a sexually explicit image or video of a minor is downloaded and viewed, the child who’s shown is victimized again,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge of HSI Los Angeles. “That’s why HSI, in close collaboration with its law enforcement partners and prosecutors, is using every resource and tool at its disposal not only to target those involved in online child sexual exploitation, but also to identify and rescue the children who’ve fallen prey to these predators.”
O’Neill is one of a half-dozen men from the Inland Empire who currently face federal charges related to child pornography.
- Jeremy Matthew Meyerett, 41, of San Bernardino, has agreed to plead guilty to production of child pornography in a case that carries a 15-year mandatory minimum prison term. During an undercover investigation by the Queensland (Australia) Police Service, Meyerett discussed sexually molesting a 5-year-old girl, and a subsequent search of an online account by federal law enforcement yielded child pornography depicting the young victim. Meyerett is scheduled to enter his guilty plea June 13 before United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips. This investigation was conducted by HSI and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
- Andrew Harrison Fowler, 26, of Perris, who was previously convicted of having sex with minors in San Diego Superior Court, pleaded guilty April 18 to possession of child pornography, with some of the images depicting victims younger than 10. Fowler came to the attention of law enforcement after his employer discovered he was distributing and possessing child pornography while using a computer at his job in Corona. Fowler is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Phillips June 27, at which time he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and maximum possible sentence of 20 years. Fowler was on parole in the San Diego case when he committed the offense in the federal case. This case was investigated by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office Sexual Assault and Felony Enforcement/Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, which includes HSI special agents.
- Anthony Michael Scotti, 22, of Murrieta, pleaded guilty April 4 to possession of child pornography. Scotti, who was previously convicted in Riverside Superior court of distributing lewd material to a minor, admitted he had images on an iPod that was seized by law enforcement last August. He also admitted using the KIK messaging app to distribute images of children engaged in sex acts with adults. In a plea agreement, Scotti also admitted he used text messages to convince a 15-year-old girl in another state to take sexually explicit pictures and send them to him. U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez is scheduled to sentence Scotti Sept. 12, at which time he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. This case was investigated by HSI.
- Angelo Harper Jr., 21, of Moreno Valley, is scheduled to go on trial July 19 on charges of advertising, distributing, and possessing child pornography. A grand jury indictment accuses Harper of distributing child pornography that includes a six-minute video depicting a man with a pre-pubescent boy. If he is convicted, Harper would face a statutory maximum sentence of 70 years in federal prison. This case was investigated by HSI and the Riverside Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement Task Force.
- Nathan Charles Longino Barba, 21, of Rancho Cucamonga, was indicted April 13 on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography. Barba has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial June 14. The indictment alleges Barba received video files depicting child pornography over the Internet and that he possessed sexually explicit images of a child under 12. If he is convicted, Barba would face a statutory maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison. This case was investigated by FBI.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The HSI investigations were conducted under the agency’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 14,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2015, nearly 2,400 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.