TAMPA – A federal jury convicted a Largo man of viewing online child pornography June 12.
Eric Thomas, 37, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. He sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 18.
On July 21, 2012, Thomas’ wife, who later divorced him, called Largo Police Department to report that she found child pornography websites on their shared computer. Largo detectives Nathan Dix and Corey Monaghan – now with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement – were assigned to the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force and both worked on the case.
According to the testimony and evidence presented at trial, a forensic review revealed that more than 850 images of child pornography had been deleted from the computer. Thomas had taken considerable steps to conceal his activities by removing the Internet history and the child pornography files from his computer, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney of the Middle District of Florida.
The case was problematic because Thomas no longer possessed the pornography, but “had viewed it thousands of times online,” Largo Sgt. Randall Chaney stated in a city email.
Thomas was indicted on the charge of accessing child pornography with intent to view on Sept. 30, 2013. His trial began June 9 and lasted four days.
The prosecution’s evidence included Monaghan’s re-constructed Web pages of what Thomas had viewed, testimony from Thomas’ ex-wife as well as forensically determined patterns of computer use that showed Thomas had accessed the multiple child pornography sites, Chaney stated.
The FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the case along with the Largo police, who also interviewed Thomas’ minor child.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer L. Peresie and Josephine W. Thomas prosecuted the case.
Following the trial, the United States Marshals Service took Thomas into custody pending his sentencing.
This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and to identify and rescue victims.