Oakdale Youth Pastor, Registered Sex Offender from Escalon, and Bishop Man Charged in Separate Child Exploitation Cases
Google Tips to National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Undercover Detective’s Work on Facebook Lead to Recent Arrests
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 20, 2014|
FRESNO, CA—A grand jury in Fresno returned three separate indictments today alleging offenses involving the sexual exploitation of minors, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
In the first indictment, Tyler Bliss, 26, of Oakdale, was charged with one count of receiving and distributing child pornography from October 2013 through February 2014. According to a previously filed criminal complaint, Google reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) that on December 3, 2013, an image of suspected child pornography had been uploaded to a Google account. NCMEC referred the matter to law enforcement, and a detective with the Ceres Police Department discovered that the same Google account had been connected with the transmission of hundreds of other images of suspected child pornography. Additional investigation revealed that the account had been accessed from a residence in Oakdale, as well as from a church in Oakdale. Computers and a cellphone were obtained through search warrants for both locations, and investigators found images related to the sexual exploitation of minors on these items. Bliss had been serving as supervisor of Student Ministries at the church.
Bliss has been in custody since his arrest by FBI agents Wednesday. He is scheduled for arraignment today at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe. His custody status will be addressed at this court appearance. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a lifetime of supervised release.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Ceres Police Department and the Modesto FBI Resident Agency with initial assistance from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office. Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is encouraged to contact the Modesto Resident Agency of the FBI at 209-543-7846.
In the second indictment, Allen Kendrick, 47, of Escalon, was charged with one count of receiving and distributing child pornography from June 2013 through December 2013. According to a previously filed criminal complaint, Google reported to NCMEC that on December 10, 2013, six images of suspected child pornography were associated with a Google account. NCMEC referred the matter to law enforcement, and a detective with the Ceres Police Department discovered that the Google account had been accessed from residences in Modesto and Escalon. Additional investigation revealed that Kendrick was a registered sex offender on GPS location monitoring, and the GPS records confirmed that Kendrick was at the residences in Modesto and Escalon when the child pornography had been accessed. This case is the result of an investigation by the Ceres Police Department and the Modesto FBI Resident Agency, with assistance from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Adult Parole Operations.
Kendrick has been ordered detained as a danger to the community and a flight risk. He will be arraigned on March 25, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. by Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe. If convicted, he faces a maximum potential prison sentence of 40 years, a fine of up to $250,000, and a lifetime term of supervised release.
In the third indictment, Lorenzo Hernandez Martinez, 37, of Bishop, was charged with one count of attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor. According to a criminal complaint, Martinez communicated through Facebook chats from mid-October 2013 through February 2014 with someone whom he believed to a 14-year-old girl in Oregon. Martinez quickly turned the communications in a sexual direction, and he repeatedly transmitted lewd images. In fact, Martinez was communicating with an undercover detective in Corvallis, Oregon. The Corvallis Police Department worked with the Bishop Police Department and the Bakersfield FBI Resident Agency to identify the defendant. When a search warrant was executed at his residence in Bishop on March 11, 2014, agents seized a cell phone that contained communications with the detective in Oregon and sexually explicit.
Martinez has been ordered detained as a danger to the community and a flight risk. If convicted, he faces a maximum prison term of 10 years, a potential fine of $250,000, and a three-year term of supervised release. He will be arraigned on March 24, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. by U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe.
Assistant United States Attorney David Gappa is prosecuting all three cases. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defendants are convicted, their sentence 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.
They have been 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.