PANAMA CITY, Fla. - James Michael Beall, 30, of Panama City, was sentenced today to 294 months in federal prison for production, distribution, and possession of child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Bay County Sheriff's Office and the Thornton Police Department in Thornton, Colo.
Beall pleaded guilty in U. S. District Court in Panama City earlier this year. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard A. Smoak.
Facts presented at the plea hearing revealed that Beall used the Internet to entice a child in Colorado to send him nude photographic images of herself. When Beall received the images, he distributed them to others online. He also received images of child pornography from other individuals and distributed those as well.
"This case demonstrates that there are serious consequences for producing and distributing illegal images of innocent children being sexually exploited and traumatized," said Susan McCormick, ICE special agent in charge of the Office of Homeland Security Investigations in Tampa, Fla. "Working with our state, local and federal law enforcement partners, we will continue to investigate predators and ensure that they feel the full weight of the law."
U.S. Attorney Pamela C. Marsh, Northern District of Florida, praised the work of ICE, the Bay County Sheriff's Office and the Thornton Police Department, whose joint investigation led to Beall's plea and sentence. "The cooperative efforts of federal and multiple state agencies were integral to the successful prosecution, leading to this substantial sentence," said Marsh. "Protecting children from sexual exploitation is a high priority of the Department of Justice and this office."
The investigation that led to this case was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable.
Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,800 individuals through 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. 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.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Department of Justice in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U. S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Love.