PITTSBURGH - Fred Woolum of Lexington, Va., was sentenced Feb. 15 in the Western District of Pennsylvania to 15 years in prison and a lifetime of supervision on his release and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment fee for engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Department of Justice Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David J. Hickton and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge John Kelleghan.
Woolum, 59, pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise before U.S. District Court Judge Arthur J. Schwab on July 22, 2010.
According to court documents and proceedings, Woolum and others distributed images and videos of children being sexually abused to other members of an international Internet group that had restricted membership and was formed on a social networking website. Members of the group distributed to one another thousands of sexually explicit images and videos of children, many of which graphically depicted prepubescent, male children, including some infants, being sexually abused and sometimes sodomized or subjected to bondage.
This case was investigated by HSI in Pittsburgh and the High Technology Investigative Unit of the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS). Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig W. Haller of the Western District of Pennsylvania and CEOS Trial Attorney Andrew McCormack prosecuted the case.
HSI's involvement in this investigation is part of the agency's national initiative known as Operation Predator, an ongoing enforcement effort targeting those who prey upon and sexually exploit our nation's children-including Internet pornographers, international sex tourists, and foreign national sexual predators.
Operation Goodbye, a multi-year HSI cyber investigation based in Pittsburgh, specifically targeted the predator group Woolum was engaged with. Earlier this month, predator group members Stephen Simms of Palm Springs, Calif., and Ryan Chiles of Hampton, Va., were also sentenced in the Western District of Pennsylvania to prison for child exploitation enterprise.
HSI encourages the reporting of suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. 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 & Exploited Children, an ICE partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
For more information in HSI's predator investigations, go to www.ICE.gov.