COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio home health care aide pleaded guilty Wednesday to distributing child pornography and attempting to coerce a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Carter M. Stewart, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI in Ohio and Michigan; and Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott, on behalf of the Franklin County Internet Against Crimes (ICAC) Task Force, announced the plea entered today before U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson.
According to court documents, in February, Patrick Mahoney, 34, of Columbus, Ohio, arranged an online sexual encounter with an undercover officer whom he thought was a 15-year-old girl. Mahoney allegedly intended to photograph the encounter with his cell phone. He also sent 45 images and nine videos depicting prepubescent males and females engaged in sexual activity with adult males and other children.
Mahoney was arrested on a criminal complaint on Feb. 17, and has been in custody since his arrest. Special agents searched a laptop computer belonging to Mahoney and found it contained numerous images of child pornography.
Attempted coercion or enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity is punishable by at least 10 years and up to life in prison. Distribution of child pornography over the Internet is punishable by at least five years and up to 20 years in prison.
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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.