Montgomery Man Accused of Online Sextortion Plot Jailed on Federal Child Pornography Charges
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 02, 2012|
MONTGOMERY—A federal grand jury has indicted Christopher Patrick Gunn, 31, of Montgomery, Alabama, for possession of child pornography, U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. announced. On March 20, 2012, FBI agents executed a federal search warrant at Gunn’s residence, where they discovered a cell phone and a laptop computer containing images and videos of child pornography.
Among the pictures that Gunn possessed were several of young girls posing in various states of undress and which appear to have been produced by the girls themselves using their cell phone cameras. These images corroborate information that the FBI’s investigation had already uncovered—that for over a year, Gunn had been repeatedly using fake Facebook profiles to extort nude photos and videos from underage girls in numerous states, including Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
The investigation of Gunn started in April 2011 by officers of the Prattville (Alabama) Police Department, after female students at Prattville Junior High School complained that someone using the screen name “Tyler Mielke” had been soliciting her for inappropriate pictures over Facebook. Using the online profile of a teenage boy, Gunn would initiate contact by sending these young female victims a friend request or message to chat with him. Once he had gained their trust through chatting, he would ask them a series of personal questions, such as their bra size, their sexual history, intimate details about their bodies, and so on. When his victims had finished divulging that personal information, the subject would then ask the victims to send him a topless photo. If they refused, he would threaten to e-mail their intimate conversation to the school principal or post it on Facebook for everyone to see. From January 2011 through April 2011, and for this purpose, the subject contacted or attempted to contact over 250 separate minor females in the greater Montgomery area utilizing the user name of “Tyler Mielke.”
Prattville investigators were able to trace an IP address for the bogus “Tyler Mielke” account back to Gunn’s residence in Montgomery and obtained and executed a state search warrant for his residence on April 14, 2011. The seized computers revealed evidence of the online sextortion plot under the account names “Tyler Mielke” and “Jason Lempke.”
Separate investigations conducted in September 2011 by the Biloxi (Mississippi) Police Department and the Livingston Parish (Louisiana) Sheriff’s Office revealed that someone in the Montgomery area had been committing the very same crimes against young girls in those jurisdictions using Facebook accounts with the names “C.J. Harper” and “Dalton Powers.”
Based upon the information obtained from these investigations, the FBI was able to develop evidence that showed that Gunn was the person behind all the criminal conduct. In fact, the FBI has reason to believe that Gunn may have targeted hundreds of other girls in various states across the country, with some as young as 9 and 10 years old. Other Facebook profiles linked to Gunn include the names “Daniel Rodgers,” “Justin Babin,” and “Dalton Walthers.” Members of the public who believe they may have information concerning these or related crimes are urged to contact the Montgomery field office of the FBI at 334-263-1691.
On March 20, 2012, the same day the federal search warrant was executed at his residence, a federal complaint was filed against Gunn and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Gunn was arrested three days later. On Wednesday, March 28, 2012, a federal grand jury sitting in Montgomery returned a two-count felony indictment charging Gunn with possession of the child pornography found on the cell phone and laptop computer seized from his residence. If convicted of those charges, Gunn faces a maximum possible penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment, $500,000 in fines, and a lifetime term of supervised release. A trial date has not been set, but the United States is seeking to detain Gunn pending his trial. Gunn’s detention hearing is scheduled for March 29, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.
This case is being investigated by the Montgomery Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Prattville (Alabama) Police Department, the Biloxi (Mississippi) Police Department, and the Livingston Parish (Louisiana) Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Nathan D. Stump is prosecuting the case.
This case is being 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 individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc/resources.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only charges and that a defendant is presumed innocent of those charges unless and until the government proves the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.