Orange Park Man Pleads Guilty to Receiving Child Pornography Over the Internet
JACKSONVILLE, FL—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announced today that Charles Eugene Mears (56, Orange Park) has pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography over the Internet. He faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years, up to 20 years, in federal prison and a potential life term of supervision. A sentencing hearing has not yet been set.
According to court documents, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent in Jacksonville began an undercover investigation to identify individuals in northeast Florida that had access to and/or were trading images and videos of child pornography over the Internet. The agent identified a computer that was hosting images of child pornography using a peer-to-peer file sharing program, and was able to download several of the files. Further investigation traced the host computer to Mears’s residence.
Agents subsequently executed a federal search warrant at Mears’s residence and seized several computers and other electronic media. Forensic analyses of Mears’s laptop revealed that it contained at least 211 videos depicting child pornography, including at least one video depicting the sexual abuse of a toddler.
This case was investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
This is another case 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 United States Attorneys’ 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.