Washington, DC - Ten men from around the country have been sentenced for participating in a child pornography enterprise and conspiracy, Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania imposed the following sentences:
- Andrew Dowdle, aka “Chigger,” 48, of Oswego, New York, was sentenced on Sept. 23, 2019, to 16 years in prison, followed by 15 years supervised release. He pleaded guilty on April 8, 2019.
- Carl Masters, aka “Harmon,” 45, of Lawrence, Kansas, was sentenced on Sept. 24, 2019, to 27 years in prison, followed by lifetime supervised release. He pleaded guilty on April 25, 2019.
- Ric Crossfield, aka “Officer Branner,” 25, of Jamaica, New York, was sentenced on Sept. 25, 2019, to 14 years in prison, followed by 40 years supervised release. He pleaded guilty on April 18, 2019.
- Christian Brennan, aka “Choad,” 46, of Puyallup, Washington, was sentenced on Nov. 7, 2019, to 20 years in prison, followed by 10 years supervised release. He pleaded guilty on April 23, 2019.
- Sharif El-Battouty, aka “Fritos,” 39, of Woodside, New York, was sentenced on March 16, 2020, to 30 years in prison, followed by lifetime supervised release. He was found guilty at trial on May 2, 2019.
- Jarrett Lea, aka “Toot,” 27, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was sentenced on Oct. 1 2020, to 17 years in prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty on April 15, 2019.
- David Minnichelli, aka “Davis,” 30 of Califon, New Jersey, was sentenced on July 28, 2020, to 15 years in prison, followed by lifetime supervised release. He pleaded guilty on Oct. 22, 2019.
- Marqueal Bonds, aka “The Goat,” 22, of Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced on Aug. 18, 2020, to 22 years in prison, followed by lifetime supervised release. He pleaded guilty on March 5, 2020.
- Timothy Friel, aka “JJChuck,” 40 of Penndel, Pennsylvania, was sentenced on March 19, 2020, to 12 years in prison, followed by 15 years supervised release. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 24, 2018.
U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle for the Western District of Washington imposed the following sentence:
- Cory Crosby, aka “The 191,” 39, of Tacoma, Washington, was sentenced on April 1, 2019, to 25 years in prison, followed by lifetime supervised release. He pleaded guilty on July 18, 2018.
“The defendants collaborated in a sophisticated conspiracy to deceive, manipulate, and extort hundreds of unsuspecting and vulnerable children, tricking them into creating sexually explicit content by posing as their peers on live-streaming video chat applications,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “These significant sentences reflect the Department’s commitment to uncovering such nefarious schemes and protecting our most innocent from exploitation by online predators.”
“Jarret Lea and his co-conspirators caused irreparable harm to over 170 identified child victims,” said U.S. Attorney William McSwain for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “These men shrouded their true identities in the anonymity of the internet and presented themselves as their victims’ peers in order to gain these children’s trust and exploit them sexually. The lengthy sentences handed out for this despicable behavior will not restore the innocence lost, but they do send a strong message that my office will find and prosecute child predators, no matter where they lurk.”
“In order to ensure themselves a steady supply of new child pornography, these predators conspired to befriend, manipulate, and sexually exploit scores of minors online,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Driscoll of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “The defendants thought they could hide behind fake names and handles and continue their violations with impunity. The FBI is proud to have fully unmasked them, shut them down, and brought them to justice.”
According to court documents, between November 2016 and July 2018, these defendants, and other co-conspirators outside of the United States, utilized chatrooms on the online service “Discord” – an application designed for online gaming communities that allows users to engage in text chat and share images and videos – to produce and exchange child pornography. These chatrooms were accessed by invitation only. Those who gained access to the chatrooms actively worked together to identify social media platforms and profiles of minor females, including girls as young as 10 years old, and strategized regarding how to convince the children to engage in sexually explicit activity via live web camera. The group targeted live-streaming video chat applications such as Live.Me, Periscope, YouNow, Kik, Musically and Snapchat to target and entice the minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct.
While pretending to be minor boys and girls, the defendants streamed pre-recorded videos of other underage minors engaging in similar conduct to the targeted victims in an effort to get the minors to believe they were watching a live video of someone their own age. The victims were unaware that they were communicating with adult men who were recording their sexually explicit activity. After successfully recording a victim, the defendants shared the sexually explicit videos with each other by uploading the files to file-storage sites and placing a link to download the file on a section of their members-only chatroom. To date, 172 minor victims have been positively identified.
Four of the co-conspirators each pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise and one count of advertising child pornography. Three of the co-conspirators pleaded guilty to one count of advertising child pornography. Two of the co-conspirators pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise. Additionally, Cory Crosby, who was prosecuted in the Western District of Washington pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, one count of producing child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.
Trial Attorneys Kaylynn Foulon and Lauren Britsch of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Jayne and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Schlessinger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Hampton of the Western District of Washington prosecuted the cases. The FBI Philadelphia and Tacoma Field Offices and investigated the case with assistance from Operation Rescue Me, the Digital Analysis and Research Center (DARC) Lab and CEOS’s High Technology Investigative Unit.
This case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.