COLUMBUS, Ohio — A former Columbus-area man, who surrendered to authorities shortly after being featured on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Operation Predator App pleaded guilty Thursday to child exploitation charges.
Carter M. Stewart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Marlon V. Miller, Special Agent in Charge, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and members of the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force announced the plea entered into Thursday before U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost.
Jeremiah Malfroid, 33, was charged by criminal complaint for production of child pornography in October 2014, and absconded during the investigation.
According to court documents, investigators with the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force connected files containing child pornography to Malfroid’s computer. While executing a search warrant and forensic examination of Malfroid’s computer, investigators discovered 281 files of child pornography, 77 of which depicted children who have been identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Numerous additional images on Malfroid’s computer depicted Malfroid sexually abusing a female child. It was confirmed that Malfroid had access to the juvenile female between approximately 2007 and 2013, when the child was three to nine years old.
He turned himself in to local authorities in California in December 2014, after being profiled on the ICE Operation Predator smartphone app. A user-generated Facebook post indicating Malfroid’s fugitive status had been created the same month and shared nearly 200,000 times.
Production of child pornography is a crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2014, more than 2,300 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196. 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.
HSI is a founding member and current chair 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.