WILMINGTON, Del. — Two southern Delaware men pled guilty in federal court on October 12 to child pornography charges in separate cases investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Jamie Hall, age 37, a U.S. Air Force Tech Sergeant stationed at the Dover Air Force Base, pleaded guilty to receipt of child pornography, in violation of federal law. Hall, who will be sentenced on Jan. 13, 2011, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison. Hall also faces a term of supervised release following his prison sentence of five years to life, and will be required to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction in which he lives, works, or attends school. Hall will remain detained pending sentencing.
According to the court record, Hall came to the attention of ICE HSI and the Delaware State Police in February 2010, after he engaged in online conversations with a New Hampshire detective who was posing as an 18-year-old male interested in trading child pornography. Hall sent numerous images of child pornography to the undercover agent and posted additional images to a publicly available website.
On April 1, 2010, law enforcement agents conducted a search of Hall's Dover residence. The agents recovered computer equipment containing over 400 still images and 20 videos of hardcore child pornography, depicting male and female children engaged in sex acts with adult males. The children appeared to range in age from toddlers to teens.
Hall was scheduled to deploy to Iraq in mid-April 2010, about 2 weeks after his arrest. Hall has been detained since his April 1 arrest.
In a second case, Michael Traverso, age 73, of Milford, Delaware, pled guilty to possession of child pornography, in violation of federal law. Traverso, a retired mechanical engineer, has resided in Milford since 2001. Traverso faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a term of supervised release following his prison sentence of five years to life. He also will be required to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction in which he lives, works, or attends school. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 11, 2011. Traverso will remain detained pending sentencing.
Traverso came to the attention of law enforcement in December 2009, when ICE HSI agents infiltrated a photo sharing website that was being used to trade images of child pornography. The operators of the website cooperated in the investigation of these traders. During the course of the investigation, ICE HSI found evidence that Traverso had posted images of child pornography to the website and had engaged in online conversations with others who were trading child pornography.
On March 4, 2010, law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Traverso's Milford residence, where he lived alone. A forensic examination of computer equipment seized from the residence revealed over 1,000 image files and 350 video files containing depictions of child pornography. Traverso had downloaded these images from the internet between Sept. 20, 1998 and Jan. 25, 2010. The images of child pornography found on Traverso's computer equipment included prepubescent and adolescent females primarily engaged in oral, anal, and vagina intercourse with adult males. Some of the children depicted were infants at the time of their abuse.
"Every Homeland Security Investigations special agent is dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable members of our society, our children," said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Philadelphia. "The entire law enforcement community focuses tremendous efforts in order to bring child predators to justice."
United States Attorney David C. Weiss noted that Messrs, Hall and Traverso were two men at very different stages of their lives who victimized children via the internet. Weiss stated, "Those who prey on our children -- regardless of their station in life, standing in the community, job, or background – will find themselves primary targets of law enforcement."
These cases were investigated by ICE HSI, and the Delaware State Police High Tech Crimes Unit. These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edward J. McAndrew.
This investigation is part of ICE's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, which marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet.
As part of Operation Predator, ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
Through Project Safe Childhood, the Department of Justice is seeking to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.