A Warren man arrested in September 2011 during a Rhode Island State Police led roundup of 14 individuals identified as allegedly possessing and/or distributing child pornography pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to federal child pornography charges.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office in Rhode Island, Thomas Wells, 32, pleaded guilty as charged in a federal indictment returned February 1, 2012, charging him with one count each of possession and distribution of child pornography. Wells was arrested by one of eight teams of federal, state and local law enforcement agents and officers that fanned out across the state on September 28, 2011, armed with court authorized search warrants for residences identified by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) as allegedly possessing and/or distributing child pornography.
Wells’ guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police; and Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
According to information presented to the court, a Postal Inspection Service inspector and ICAC agents developed evidence during the investigation that child pornography was being traded through the Internet from Wells’ residence. Law enforcement agents executed a court authorized search of Wells’ home and discovered hundreds of digital images depicting child pornography. Wells admitted to the court that he had been downloading and distributing child pornography through a peer-to-peer network commonly accessed to trade child pornography.
Wells is scheduled to be sentenced on October 23, 2012, by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. Wells faces up to 50 years in federal prison, with a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years imprisonment; up to lifetime supervised release; and a fine of up to $500,000.