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Child Exploitation
01/26/2018

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2 additional men convicted in large scale child exploitation conspiracy

Phoenix man already serving time in prison for his role in producing and advertising child pornography

PHOENIX – Thursday, two additional men were convicted in federal court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania of engaging in an international large scale child exploitation conspiracy that was initiated in July 2015, when the Toronto Police Department reached out to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Phoenix and HSI Toronto after discovering a live child molestation being streamed around the globe.

Dylan Heatherly, 34, of Lemon Grove, Calif. and William Staples, 57, of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, were convicted Thursday of multiple child exploitation crimes, including conspiracy offenses, after a seven-day jury trial.

According to trial evidence, between April 11, 2014 and May 11, 2016, Staples, Heatherly and 12 co-conspirators located in different states worked together and with others to create a secure space on a video conferencing website where like-minded individuals could regularly live-stream videos of child pornography of prepubescent children, some as young as infants, to each other in an effort to minimize any evidence of such child pornography being located on their individual devices. In addition to streaming pre-recorded videos of child pornography, July 22, 2015, an undercover Toronto Police Detective Constable observed a 5-year-old child being sexually abused live via video conference for everyone in the secure space to see. Many individuals commented on and encouraged the sexual abuse of the child in real time. The following day, law enforcement rescued the child and arrested co-conspirator William Augusta who had been sexually abusing the child.

“The convictions of the men in this case were well deserved. Not only did the defendants have no regard for their young victims, they also blatantly disrespected the judicial system,” said Scott Brown, special agent in charge of HSI Phoenix. “HSI continues to work diligently with our law enforcement partners to pursue sexual predators who take advantage of innocent children.”

A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled. Trial Attorney Austin M. Berry of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Taylor of the Middle District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting the case.

In May 2016, 15 individuals were charged in an 18-count superseding indictment by a grand jury in the Middle District of Pennsylvania with multiple child exploitation offenses, many of which related to 14 co-conspirators’ involvement in using the video conferencing website to produce, advertise, distribute, and/or receive child pornography. Twelve of the defendants pleaded guilty prior to trial:

  • William Augusta, 21, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty on Oct. 28, 2016, to each of the 13 counts with which he was charged, including multiple counts of production of child pornography involving two different children.  On Oct. 31, 2017, Judge Kane sentenced Augusta to serve 60 years in prison to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release.
  • Scott Lane, 34, former Executive Director of Donor Relations and Fundraising Programs for Pace University, of Manhattan, pleaded guilty on Jan. 11, five days before trial was set to begin, to each of the six counts with which he was charged, including conspiracy to produce child pornography; aiding and abetting the production of child pornography; conspiracy to advertise child pornography; advertising child pornography; conspiracy to receive/distribute child pornography and aiding and abetting the receipt/distribution of child pornography. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
  • Matthew Fensler, 25, of Phoenix, Arizona, pleaded guilty on Jan. 4, 2017, to conspiracy to produce child pornography and conspiracy to advertise child pornography.  On July 27, 2017, Judge Kane sentenced Fensler to serve 35 years in prison to be followed by 15 years of supervised release.
  • David Sewell, 31, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, pleaded guilty on Dec. 12, 2016, to conspiracy to produce child pornography and conspiracy to advertise child pornography.  On July 27, 2017, Judge Kane sentenced Sewell to serve 35 years in prison to be followed by 15 years of supervised release.
  • Moises Marquez, 30, of San Diego, California, pleaded guilty on Sept. 28, 2016, to conspiracy to produce child pornography and conspiracy to advertise child pornography.  On June 28, 2017, Judge Kane sentenced Marquez to serve 30 years in prison to be followed by 15 years of supervised release.
  • Jason Bolden, 47, of Duluth, Georgia, pleaded guilty on Dec. 14, 2016, to conspiracy to advertise child pornography.  On July 26, 2017, Judge Kane sentenced Bolden to serve 30 years in prison to be followed by 10 years of supervised release.
  • Franklyn Molina, 35, of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty on March 24, 2017, to conspiracy to advertise child pornography and to an Information separately charging receipt of child pornography.  On Sept. 20, 2017, Judge Kane sentenced Molina to serve 195 months in prison to be followed by 15 years of supervised release.
  • Casey O’Dell, 34, a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico, pleaded guilty on Dec. 14, 2016, to conspiracy to produce child pornography and conspiracy to advertise child pornography.  On Oct. 24, 2017, Judge Kane sentenced O’Dell to serve 40 years in prison to be followed by 15 years of supervised release.
  • James Reese, 59, of Des Moines, Iowa, pleaded guilty on Oct. 28, 2016, to conspiracy to advertise child pornography.  On Nov. 7, 2017, Judge Kane sentenced Reese to serve 20 years in prison to be followed by 10 years of supervised release.
  • Paul Stamm, 56, of Cincinnati, Ohio, pleaded guilty on Jan. 4, 2017, to conspiracy to produce child pornography, a charge unrelated to the video conferencing website.  On Sept. 28, 2017, Judge Kane sentenced Stamm to serve 30 years in prison to be followed by 15 years of supervised release.
  • Ed Westbury, 64, of Lufkin, Texas, pleaded guilty on Dec. 8, 2016, to conspiracy to receive/distribute child pornography.  On June 14, 2017, Judge Kane sentenced Westbury to serve 78 months in prison to be followed by 10 years of supervised release.
  • Christopher Wehr, 45, of Duluth, Georgia, pleaded guilty on Jan. 23, 2017, to conspiracy to advertise child pornography.  Wehr died prior to sentencing.
  • The remaining defendant, Bruce Edgecombe, 69, of Harvard, Illinois died before his case went to trial.

Several law enforcement agencies assisted in this case including HSI offices in Phoenix, Harrisburg and Toronto, the Toronto Police Service, the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, and the North Middleton Police Department.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 01/30/2018