TACOMA, Wash. – A federal grand jury indicted a Portland, Ore., man for producing, distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI).
Joseph Schesso, 33, was living in Vancouver, Wash., when the alleged crimes occurred. He is scheduled to be arraigned June 3 at the federal courthouse in Tacoma, Wash.
According to court documents in the case, Schesso came to the attention of law enforcement in Germany when they discovered that someone in the United States was distributing child pornography through a file-sharing program. The information was passed from German authorities to ICE HSI investigators who traced the computer's Internet protocol address to Schesso's residence in Vancouver.
ICE HSI agents executed a search warrant at Schesso's home in June and discovered more than 3,100 images and 500 movie files of child pornography on his personal computers. An electronic media card for a digital camera was also recovered.
A forensic examination of the media card revealed sexually explicit photos of a child surrounded by furniture and blankets in Schesso's home. ICE HSI agents were able to identify the child as someone who had previously visited Schesso's house.
In November, Schesso was arrested and charged by complaint. He was released from federal custody on various conditions, including that he have no contact with minors or access to computers.
If convicted, Schesso faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and up to 30 years in prison for producing child pornography. Receiving and distributing child pornography are each punishable by a mandatory minimum five years in prison and up to 20 years in prison. Possessing child pornography is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If convicted, Schesso will also have to register as a sex offender and could face up to lifetime supervised release.
ICE HSI was joined in the investigation by the Vancouver Police Department. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Marci Ellsworth and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aravind Swaminathan, Western District of Washington, are prosecuting this case.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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.