Department of Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty to Production of Child Pornography
TAMPA, FL—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Michael C. Vella (36, Riverview) today pleaded guilty to production of child pornography. He faces a minimum mandatory term of 15 years, up to a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison.
According to the plea agreement, a 16 year-old female reported to law enforcement that Vella had been forcing her to have sex with him since the middle of 2012. The victim disclosed that Vella had, on at least one occasion, utilized his laptop computer to record their sexual intercourse. At the time the arrest warrant was issued, Vella was deployed to Afghanistan as a Department of Defense contractor.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stacie B. Harris.
It 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 the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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.projectsafechildhood.gov.