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Child Exploitation

Last defendant sentenced to 7 years for participating in child pornography distribution ring

LOS ANGELES - The fifth and final defendant, who was charged for his role in an Internet-based child pornography trafficking ring that specialized in sharing images depicting the sexual abuse of young girls, was sentenced on Monday to seven years in federal prison.

Kevin Kaller Wright, 44, of Santa Monica, Calif., received the 84-month sentence from U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow.

Wright and four other people pleaded guilty over the past year to being members of the "Quest4More" Internet bulletin board, whose members "advocated the sexual torture of children," according to court documents. Quest4More, which was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), was a secret bulletin board that allowed members to post and view pictures and videos, which often depicted very young children, sometimes being tortured or in bondage.

The following defendants were previously sentenced in this case:

  • Michael Pharis, 51, of Las Vegas, Nev., who was sentenced in December to 15 years in prison;
  • Daniel Murphy, 53, of Millville, N.J., who was sentenced in March to 12 years and seven months in prison;
  • Paul Challender, 54 of Big Rapids, Mich., who was sentenced in March to 12 years and seven months in prison; and
  • William Ho, 39, of Hacienda Heights, Calif., who was sentenced in March to 11 years and three months in prison.

All five men charged in this case pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport, receive, distribute and possess child pornography. They all admitted being part of the Quest4More bulletin board, which was used to distribute illegal images and videos depicting prepubescent children, including toddlers being subjected to various sexual and sadistic acts. The group also posted links to other sites that had images of child sexual abuse. Law enforcement was alerted to the group following the arrest of one of its members in 2008.

Each defendant made hundreds of posts to the bulletin board. Wright, for example, was one of the more prolific users of the bulletin board, making more than 400 posts, although he did not post any pictures to the site.

"Like many of those who trade child pornography over the Internet, the users of this online message board mistakenly believed they were shielded in cyberspace from law enforcement scrutiny," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles. "As the convictions and sentences we've obtained in this case make clear, pedophiles and others who think they can use the Internet to exploit children with impunity should be on notice, we will do everything in our power and use every tool at our disposal to track you down and see you brought to justice - whether you are around the block or around the world."

Wright was sentenced to 10 years of supervised release, and the four other defendants were sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release after they complete their prison terms.

This investigation is part of ICE's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.

As part of Operation Predator, ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. 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.

Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.