ABILENE, Texas — A West Texas man pleaded guilty Thursday to child pornography offenses, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Abilene Police Department are investigating this case.
Specifically, Paul Joseph Koestle, 33, of Abilene, Texas, who remains in custody, pleaded guilty to one count of producing child pornography and one count of receiving child pornography. On the production conviction, he faces a statutory penalty of not less than 15 years or more than 30 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. On the receipt conviction, he faces a statutory penalty of not less than five years or more than 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date was not set.
According to documents filed in the case, earlier this year the Abilene Police Department (APD) began investigating Koestle based on information they received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) indicating he had uploaded an image of child pornography to a Google account. APD executed a search warrant at his home in late April.
Koestle, who was home during the execution of the warrant, admitted to downloading child pornography and producing child pornography of a minor child, “Jane Doe.” A forensic evaluation of electronic equipment seized from his residence pursuant to the search revealed hundreds of images of child pornography located on a cellphone, a laptop computer and hard drive. In addition, multiple images of “Jane Doe” engaging in sexually explicit conduct were found.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Myria Boehm, the Northern District of Texas, is in charge of the prosecution.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 12,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2014, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.