A federal jury returned unanimous verdicts of guilty today against a former master deputy sheriff, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Alysa D. Erichs of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) Miami Field Division and Sheriff Kenneth J. Mascara of the St. Lucie County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office.
Cameron Dean Bates, 49, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, was found guilty of receiving, distributing and possessing child pornography. U.S. District Court Chief Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida presided over the four-day trial and set sentencing for Sept. 15, 2015.
According to testimony at trial, in March 2011, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office detectives and members of the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) began an internet investigation using peer-to-peer (P2P) software. During this investigation, law enforcement found that between December 2010 and June 2012, several internet protocol (IP) addresses linked to Bates in both St. Lucie County and Palm Beach County were used to download and share child pornography files. Detectives reviewed a number of the files associated with the IP addresses and confirmed that the files contained child pornography.
On June 29, 2012, a search warrant was executed at Bates’ residence in Port St. Lucie. During the search, law enforcement seized a Dell laptop computer from Bates’ car. An on-sight forensic preview scan of the computer found numerous, non-deleted child pornography images and videos, which included a minor child engaging in sexually explicit conduct. A full forensic analysis of Bates’ laptop revealed numerous images and videos of child pornography, along with adult pornography personally produced by Bates.
At trial, the government also introduced evidence recovered during a search of Bates’ residence, including a Dell laptop computer, which contained numerous, non-deleted, child pornography images and videos. At least one image depicted a prepubescent child under the age of 12.
This case was investigated by the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, the South Florida ICAC and ICE-HSI, with assistance from the Palm Beach County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Reginald E. Jones of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Widlanski of the Southern District of Florida.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.