U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake also ordered that Gould pay a $7,500 fine. Upon Gould's release from prison, he is required to register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.
According to the plea agreement, Gould engaged in communications with other Internet users through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks and chat rooms. Gould made numerous digital files available to other P2P users, including files that contained visual depictions of minors under the age of 12 engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
On Feb. 24, a search warrant was executed at Gould's residence and four laptop computers, two external hard drives and multiple pieces of removable media, among other items, were recovered. HSI special agents also searched a storage unit belonging to Gould, and recovered five additional hard drives. The forensic examination of some of these items uncovered at least 29 videos and more than 600 images of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, including one of the images which Gould distributed Sept. 13, 2011, as well as numerous images of young children bound and restrained and subject to physical and sexual abuse. Gould admitted that he has been trading and collecting child pornography for more than 10 years and that he has discarded multiple computers containing child pornography.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' offices and the Department of Justice Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood and Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the "resources" tab on the left of the page.
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 & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark W. Crooks.