FRESNO, Calif. - A previously convicted sex offender from Bakersfield, Calif., was sentenced in federal court Friday to 11 years in prison for possessing child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
In addition to the prison time, Anthony Bernard Ellrodt, 38, will be subject to 25 years of supervised release upon completion of his sentence. Ellrodt was previously convicted in September 1994 in Harvey County, Kansas, for aggravated indecent liberties with a child, for which he received a 32-month prison term.
According to a criminal complaint filed in this case, Bakersfield ICE HSI agents received a lead from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's cyber-tip line that a single image of what appeared to be child pornography had been uploaded to a file-sharing website from an Internet address registered to Ellrodt. A forensic review of Ellrodt's computer, and other evidence seized by ICE HSI agents during the execution of a search warrant, revealed 423 images of child pornography. Ellrodt admitted in his plea agreement that he obtained all of the images, some depicting prepubescent minors and violence, from the Internet.
There were also developments Friday in a second ICE HSI-led child pornography case being heard in federal court in Fresno. Matthew Lee Jones, 19, of Wales, pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography. Jones' sentencing is set for July 8. He faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of up to 10 years.
Fresno-based ICE HSI agents worked closely with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office on the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gappa.
According to his plea agreement, Jones admitted that between August 2010 and Feb. 2, he used a computer and Internet connection to receive images of child pornography. As part of his plea, Jones agreed to accept an order of removal from the United States and to register as a sex offender.
The two cases are 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 using 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. 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 (PSC), the Department of Justice is seeking to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For additional information on the PSC initiative, go to www.projectsafechildhood.gov or call the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California and ask to speak with the PSC coordinator.