Police assists US authorities in child porn case

File photo.

Work by covert online New Zealand detectives has contributed to the sentencing of a Florida man for possessing child pornography.

On 11 June, 51-year-old Robert Sciolino was sentenced in Tampa, Florida, to ten years in prison for receipt and possession of child pornography.

The court also ordered Sciolino to pay $57,000 in restitution to the victims and forfeit six electronic devices that he had used in the commission of the offence.

In June 2014, New Zealand detectives operating covertly online as part of their involvement in the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children International Taskforce (VCACITF) received multiple files depicting child pornography from Sciolino.

Later US law enforcement executed a search warrant at Sciolino’s residence and recovered two computers and two flash drives.

Forensic analysis of the devices revealed 354 images and 619 videos of child pornography.

Some of the images and videos depicted children as young as three years old being sexually abused.

Between December 2015 and January 2016, undercover FBI agents downloaded multiple files depicting child pornography from a user that was connected to the internet using unsecured wireless routers.

The user (Sciolino) was tracked and found to be actively downloading child pornography in his car at a grocery store parking lot in Bradenton, Tampa, Florida.

Forensic analysis of these devices recovered from Sciolino’s car revealed 1,539 images and 81 videos of child pornography.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael of the Police Covert Online Team says the involvement New Zealand law enforcement had in this investigation is a great example of the high level of cooperation shown between international law enforcement agencies when it comes to fighting online child exploitation.

Michael says New Zealand is seen by international partners as a shining light when it comes to law enforcement cooperation, with Police, the Department of Internal Affairs and Customs working closely together in identifying victims and bringing offenders to justice.

This case was a joint investigation by the Brandenton Police Department, the FBI, and the New Zealand Police.


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