Tehachapi Man Indicted on Child Pornography Charges
FRESNO, CA—A federal grand jury returned an indictment today against Thomas Bettis, 53, of Tehachapi, charging him with two counts of receipt and distribution of child pornography, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, between October 2011 and March 2013, Bettis downloaded and distributed graphic images of child pornography. In order to trade and obtain more images of child pornography, Bettis communicated with at least two individuals—one of whom was an undercover law enforcement officer.
This case is the product of two separate investigations by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney David L. Gappa and Special Assistant United States Attorney Brian A. Fogerty are prosecuting the case.
Bettis was arrested on August 27, 2014, and he has been ordered detained as a danger to the community. His next court date is September 10, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. before a magistrate judge.
For each count, Bettis faces a prison sentence of between five and 20 years, a potential $250,000 fine, and a lifetime term of supervised release. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was 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 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 those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. Click on the “resources” tab for information about Internet safety education.