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Child Exploitation

Michigan man sentenced to 35 years on child pornography charges

DETROIT - A 50-year-old Dearborn Heights, Mich., man, who filmed a seven-year-old as the subject of child pornography was sentenced Friday in federal court to 35 years in federal prison following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

John Belloli pleaded guilty last November to production and possession of child pornography and was sentenced today by United States District Judge Stephen J. Murphy, III.

Co-defendant Robert John Mueller pleaded guilty to two counts of production of child pornography on May 11 and is scheduled to be sentenced August 12.

"Today's sentencing sends an unequivocal message to those who sexually exploit children," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Detroit. "While rescuing children from these dangerous situations is our immediate concern, it should also be noted that there will be no refuge from justice for the individuals who engage in this vile behavior. We will remain vigilant on behalf of those who cannot protect themselves."

The information presented to the court at the time of the pleas established that in June 2009, the defendants sedated a minor child with prescription sleep medication and photographed one another engaging in sexually explicit conduct with the minor. Both defendants then downloaded the photographs to their computers.

Search warrants executed at the homes of both defendants each revealed in excess of 600 images of child pornography, some of which depicted prepubescent children engaged in acts of sadomasochism and violence. The majority of the images Mueller and Belloli possessed were downloaded and collected from the Internet.

The defendants have been in the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service since their arrests in July 2010. 

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade noted that this prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood initiative. She praised the work of the agents of the ICE HSI, as well as the efforts of the Sterling Heights Police Department.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE 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. ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is 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