URBANA, Ill. — A jury returned guilty verdicts Wednesday against an Illinois man for distributing and possessing child pornography.
This conviction resulted from a joint investigative effort known as "Operation Blue Monday" conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in partnership with the Urbana and Champaign, Illinois, police departments, and others.
Parrish Kappes, 47, of Tuscola, Ill., was convicted Oct. 2 in the Central District of Illinois. He was indicted by a grand jury in November 2012 following his arrest Oct. 16, 2012 on a federal criminal complaint. Kappes has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest.
During Kappes' trial, which began Sept. 30, the government presented evidence that Kappes distributed sexually explicit videos of minors on three separate occasions in August and September 2012. Evidence was also presented that Kappes possessed nearly 200 movie files and 2,000 images depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, including violent depictions of rape and torture of children under 10 years old. Jurors were also presented with evidence that Kappes' took pictures of young girls dressed in bathing suits in his Tuscola neighborhood from his backyard.
Each count of distributing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison. The penalty for possessing child pornography is up to 10 years in prison. Both offenses include up to a lifetime of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.
Kappes was apprehended, along with seven other individuals, as part of a multi-county joint investigative effort, known as "Operation Blue Monday." On behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, Jim Lewis, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, recognized the collaborative work of investigators that led to the indictment of eight defendants during this five-month operation in east central Illinois.
Trained through the Illinois Attorney General's Office's Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, law enforcement officers use investigative software and techniques to identify Internet Protocol (IP) addresses that offer to trade child pornography through the Internet. After identifying the IP address, agents determine the subscriber information and gather evidence to establish probable cause and make arrests.
U.S. Attorney Lewis commended the agencies and their designated officers for their commitment to share the burden of investigation and prosecution. "In Operation Blue Monday, law enforcement came together to work on a problem that is unfortunately too common in their jurisdictions: trading child pornography on the Internet. Working together, the officers gathered more evidence, made more arrests and gave us stronger cases, truly helping to protect young people in their communities."
Additional assistance was provided by members of the East Central Illinois Cyber Crimes Working Group, which includes: the Mattoon Police Department, the University of Illinois Police Department, the Decatur Police Department, the Vermilion County Sheriff's Office, Illinois State Police and the Illinois Secretary of State.
Following is a summary of the cases of the other seven convicted defendants:
- Remington L. Goodenough, 21, of Edina, Minn., a student at the University of Illinois, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint Nov. 26. He was indicted Dec. 19 on one count each of trafficking, receiving and possessing child pornography. Goodenough was released to the custody of his parents as third-party custodians following his initial court appearance Nov. 28. He was re-arrested Feb. 26 after violating the conditions of his bond and remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Goodenough pleaded guilty Aug. 22 to all counts in the indictment. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 10.
- Oscar Hernando Moreno Torres, 39, of Urbana, Ill., a student at the University of Illinois, is a Colombian national in the United States on a student visa. He was arrested and charged by complaint Nov. 27 and indicted Dec. 19 on one count of possessing child pornography. Torres pleaded guilty May 16 to possessing child pornography on May 16, 2012. He was sentenced Sept. 27 to 42 months in prison, to be followed by 10 years of supervised release.
- Erick Barthelemy, 27, of Champaign, Ill., was arrested and charged by complaint Sept. 10. He was indicted Oct. 4 on two counts of distributing, and one count of possessing, child pornography. Barthelemy pleaded guilty March 27 to all three counts. He was sentenced June 27 to 121 months in prison for distributing child pornography and 120 months in prison for possessing child pornography; these sentences will run concurrently. Barthelemy's sentence includes a lifetime term of supervised release.
- Danny L. Smith, of Georgetown, Ill., was arrested and charged by complaint Sept. 11. He was indicted Oct. 4 on three counts of distributing, and one count of possessing, child pornography. Smith pleaded guilty March 14 to all four counts and was sentenced July 2 to 133 months in prison, to be followed by a lifetime term of supervised release.
- Mu-Tsun Tsai, 27, of Champaign, Ill., a graduate student at the University of Illinois, is a Taiwanese national in the United States on a student visa. He was arrested and charged by complaint July 24 and indicted in August on three counts of distributing, and one count of possessing, child pornography. Tsai pleaded guilty Sept. 13 to one count of distributing, one count of receiving, and one count of possessing child pornography. Sentencing is set for Jan. 13.
- Dustin R. Underwood, 19, of Clinton, Ill., was arrested and charged by complaint Aug. 28. He was indicted in September on three counts of distributing, and one count of possessing, child pornography. Underwood pleaded guilty April 11 to two counts of distributing and one count of possessing child pornography. On Aug. 27 he was sentenced to 60 months in prison, to be followed by 10 years of supervised release with special conditions.
- Zachary M. Vincent, 21, of Tuscola, Ill., was arrested and charged by complaint Oct. 16. He was indicted Nov. 7 on three counts of distributing, and one count of possessing, child pornography. Vincent pleaded guilty Aug. 2 to all four counts. Sentencing is set for Dec. 6.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are 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 Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.