San Jose, California - A federal jury Thursday convicted Johnny Ray Wolfenbarger of attempted production of child pornography, the attempted coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in child pornography production, and the receipt of child pornography, announced Acting United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Federal Bureau of Investigation Craig D. Fair. The verdict follows a one week trial before the Honorable Lucy H. Koh, United States District Judge.
Wolfenbarger, 64, of the South Bay, proceeded to trial for the offenses charged in a February 6, 2020, superseding indictment, that is, one count of the attempted production of child pornography, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2251(a) and (e); one count of the attempted coercion and enticement of a minor (defined as an individual under 18 years of age) to engage in attempted child pornography production, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2422(b); and the receipt of child pornography, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252(a)(2). The jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts.
According to the evidence presented at trial to the federal jury, the FBI received a CyberTipline report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). A web services provider earlier had notified NCMEC of child pornography that was attached to an email and identified the user of the e-mail address as a person receiving or distributing child pornography. In 2016, FBI agents were granted a federal search warrant to examine the contents of the email account for child pornography. The email account was determined to belong to Wolfenbarger. Upon executing the warrant, the FBI identified numerous additional images of child pornography that had been sent to Wolfenbarger by other people. The search warrant further revealed evidence that, in 2013, Wolfenbarger solicited and paid individuals in the Philippines to create custom-made child pornography at his direction, which was transmitted to him live via webcam.
Among further evidence presented to the jury, records indicated that Wolfenbarger traveled to the Philippines throughout 2015 and early 2016. Wolfenbarger returned to the United States on August 2, 2016. Upon his arrival at San Francisco International Airport, he was referred for a customs inspection and met with an FBI Special Agent. Wolfenbarger was interviewed, and he admitted requesting and watching sex acts carried out by children between the ages of three and twelve years old during his webcam viewing sessions. Wolfenbarger stated that he would typically request that the children masturbate, perform oral sex on each other or an adult, or request adults use sex toys on the children. Wolfenbarger admitted he watched these sex acts on a desktop and laptop computer at his home. Wolfenbarger stated that he paid for the child pornography transmissions via Western Union and by using the tip function of the webcam service. Western Union records produced at trial documented over $25,000 in money transfers from Wolfenbarger to individuals in the Philippines.
Further evidence presented at trial indicated that on August 25, 2016, Wolfenbarger called the FBI Special Agent and requested another meeting. The meeting occurred on August 31, 2016, and the conversation was recorded. During the meeting, Wolfenbarger provided additional information about his email accounts and passwords.
The total evidence presented by the government at trial included Wolfenbarger’s recorded statements, his chats and e-mails, the images of child pornography attached to the e-mails Wolfenbarger received and sent, and records of the Western Union money transfers sent by Wolfenbarger to pay for the child pornography that was created at his direction.
The statutory sentences are as follows:
• for attempted production of child pornography in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2251(a) and (e): imprisonment for a minimum term of 15 years and a maximum term of 30 years, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a minimum term of supervised release of 5 years and a maximum of life;
• for attempted coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in the charged attempted child pornography production in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2422(b): imprisonment for a minimum term of 10 years and a maximum term of life, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a minimum term of supervised release of 5 years and a maximum of life; and
• for the receipt of child pornography in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252(a)(2): imprisonment for a minimum term of 5 years and a maximum term of 20 years, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a minimum term of supervised release of 5 years and a maximum of life.
Any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the Court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
United States District Judge Lucy H. Koh scheduled a sentencing hearing on December 8, 2021, at 9:15 a.m. Wolfenbarger was remanded into the custody pending sentencing.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.