GALVESTON, Texas — An East Texas man who previously pleaded guilty to distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography, was also convicted Tuesday of producing child pornography.
This investigation was conducted by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Galveston, Texas; the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force; Jones Creek (Texas) Marshals Office; and police departments of the following Texas cities: Pearland, Galveston, Santa Fe, Webster and La Marque.
Keith Prescott Gace, a 39-year-old resident of Santa Fe, Texas, was convicted Nov. 19 of sexually exploiting a child, following a short jury trial. The jury deliberated for about one hour before returning the guilty verdict for sexually exploiting a child, aka producing child pornography.
During trial, the jury heard testimony from multiple law enforcement officers, Gace’s ex-wife and her husband.
In October 2016, law enforcement received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) regarding a cyber-tip from a file-sharing network regarding images and videos of child pornography. This investigation revealed the email and an internet protocol address of the file-sharing account posting the images was associated with Gace.
When law enforcement arrived to search his home, Gace attempted to douse his cellphone under water to prevent law enforcement from gaining access to its contents. Law enforcement thwarted this attempt, dried the phone, and forensically analyzed its contents.
That device uncovered hundreds of images and videos of child pornography. It also showed Gace used a messaging site to chat with other like-minded individuals to receive and distribute images and videos of child pornography. Gace also had another file-sharing account previously unknown to law enforcement.
Gace’s second file-sharing account revealed hundreds more images and videos of child pornography, including images he produced of a girl under the age of 10; these images were found in a folder titled “Zzzz never share.” Gace first captured images of the minor girl fully clothed, but he progressed to producing photographs of the minor girl sleeping nude on the floor, seated naked on the floor with a vibrator next to her leg and an adult hand on her shoulder. Eventually he took photos of the girl posing nude in Gace’s bathtub. Within those later series of photographs, there were also images of Gace naked, standing and seated in his bathtub on the same day. It appears that the girl took those photos.
Gace attempted to say the images were not lewd and lascivious and should not be construed as child pornography. However, the jurors were not convinced and convicted him as charged.
Gace is scheduled to be sentenced for producing child pornography Jan. 29. At that time, he faces a minimum of 15 and up to 30 years in federal prison. He remains in federal custody pending that sentencing hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zahra Jivani Fenelon and Stephanie Bauman, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.