September 15, 2014

Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney’s Child Pornography Arrest

Believe it or not, many people who get arrested and accused of cybercrimes in Florida have no idea that they've committed illegal actions until the police arrive to take them to jail. Such arrests can shock whole families and communities.

But what happens when someone who understands cybercrime laws intimately gets arrested for such offenses? The defense usually becomes much more difficult. In that context, let's consider the arrest last week of a deputy Los Angeles City attorney on serious pornography charges.

On Thursday, September 4, the Los Angeles Police Department arrested Christopher Richard Garcia on suspicion of child pornography distribution. The police action followed a 10-month investigation, during which Garcia remained on administrative leave from his position. Authorities had identified potentially incriminating content on Garcia’s computer, including illicit images and other evidence of child exploitation, which prompted the investigation.

Garcia posted a $40,000 bail, and he's currently awaiting trial. In the meantime, however, his professional reputation as a law officer has likely already suffered a severe blow. Even if he clears the charges and proves that they were unfounded, he may struggle to reclaim a normal life and career.

How Do Cybercrime Arrests Happen to Those Who Should Know Better?

Individuals in professions such as Garcia’s obviously can commit cybercrimes. But just because someone knows and understands the law doesn’t necessarily mean he or she cannot accidentally carry out illegal acts. Here are three situations in which an innocent person (even a police officer or investigator on the cybercrime beat) could get in trouble with the law:

• Family photos.
An innocent photo of a young relative could become incriminating evidence in some circumstances. (For instance, a person who texts a "cute" nude baby picture or picture of a young relative can get in trouble, even if he or she had zero intention of sharing the picture for prurient reasons.)

• Botched investigatory searches. People who attempt to identify and apprehend cybercriminals can be mistaken as the very individuals they seek to bring to justice.

• Mislabeled downloads.
People who download torrents or other media run the risk of receiving unwanted material, for which they can become legally responsible.

Regardless of what got you into your current situation, if you currently face cybercrime charges, you understand the dire consequences of a conviction. These can include imprisonment, permanent sex offender status, and the loss of support from colleagues, friends and family.

The experienced Florida cybercrime defense attorneys at Seltzer Law, PA can help. Contact us today online, or call 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333), to begin your journey back towards freedom.

September 10, 2014

Reddit Cracks Down on Underage Photos

Individuals who face faulty cybercrime charges in Florida may soon have a lot of company, thanks to social media sites like Reddit.

Websites like Reddit have been coming down harder on users who are not in compliance with their posting rules; the implications both for web users and cybercrime defendants could be huge.

Following a recent mass hacking of celebrity smartphones on Reddit -- and the resulting backlash -- the popular forum quickly reacted to reports that some of the individuals pictured on its boards were under 18 when their photos were taken. Although the hackers responsible for these “leaks” had already committed crimes by stealing the photos, they may also now face child pornography dissemination charges.

Seemingly Innocuous Activities Can Get You into Trouble Online

Whether they realize they're committing crimes or not, people who use websites to consume explicit material can be punished with serious jail time, fines and fees, and strict probation terms. Potentially incriminating online behaviors can include:

• Uploading “hacked” photos.
Hackers who obtain and post pornographic photos against their owners’ consent break the law, and prosecutors can hit them with a litany of charges, such as identity theft and wire fraud.

• Downloading images of very young individuals. An increasing number of minors are uploading explicit photos, and it’s not always evident how old they were at the time the photos were taken. When in doubt, do not download dubious photos or videos.

• Sharing pornographic photos or videos or other multimedia content of underage individuals. Again, use good judgment, and avoid passing along these types of files.

In the United States, cybercrimes involving underage individuals represent serious offenses. Under federal law, a conviction of charges of possessing or distributing such images can result in prison time, sex offender registration, and the loss of one’s personal and professional reputation.

At Seltzer Law, our Florida cybercrime defense attorneys understand the laws related to your case, and we can fight to help you prove your innocence. Contact us today to begin your defense, or call us at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).

September 1, 2014

School District Suspends Teacher Pending Child Pornography Investigation

Regardless of your occupation, Florida child pornography charges are a frightening prospect – especially if you have been falsely accused. In Buffalo Grove, IL, a popular middle school teacher recently discovered how swift and harsh the penalties of such allegations can be.

Meridian Middle School teacher John C. Vastis, 51, was charged August 28 in federal court with multiple child pornography offenses, including soliciting lewd videos and photos from an underage boy, known simply as “Minor A.”

The criminal complaint alleges Vastis communicated via Skype and text with Minor A, requesting the teenager send him explicit photos and videos. Authorities seized a computer and cell phone, allegedly containing these images. The charges, if proven, could result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

Pending investigation, Vastis remains on investigatory leave from Meridian Middle School. School officials have not yet determined whether he will be paid during his absence.

What Are the Potential Consequences of a Child Pornography Conviction?

Individuals like Vastis often face immediate and devastating circumstances due to cybercrime allegations such as these. With the permanency of conviction, one can expect consequences such as:

. A child pornography conviction often leads to prolonged periods of time behind bars.

Loss of reputation. The damage to one’s reputation can be irreparable and begins the moment a suspect’s arrest becomes public. Friends, family, and neighbors often shun cybercrime convicts, even after they have served their time.

Job loss. Many employers remain unwilling to hire a person who has served time for child pornography charges.

If erroneous child pornography charges threaten to destroy the life you have worked so hard to achieve, don’t despair. Turn to the qualified Florida cybercrime attorneys at Seltzer Law, P.A. We understand the applicable state and federal laws in theory and in practice. We can work towards helping you retain your freedom, reputation, and future.

Call the Seltzer Law, P.A. team today at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) to discuss your legal options.

August 27, 2014

California Teacher, Pennsylvania Man Arrested for Child Pornography

Communities and the falsely accused alike experience significant shock and dismay due to cybercrime charges in Florida or elsewhere. Today, parents in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and Danville, California, are reeling from child pornography arrests as the beginning of the school year approaches.

In Wilkes-Barre, 40-year-old Scott Laine Savage was arrested two separate times and arraigned for 627 counts of child pornography, as well as 8 counts of dissemination of explicit images of children, one count of child sexual exploitation, and one count of endangering child welfare.

Savage reportedly admitted to the crimes, which included downloading illicit images and photos of children on his mobile phone, as well as taping and creating still images of a young relative. When Google detected this content in an email he attempted to send, they deleted his account.

Similarly devastating is the case of Mitchell Wolf, a 58-year-old middle school math teacher and soccer coach arrested on Friday, August 22, for possessing child pornography on his personal computers. Wolf’s behavior while employed at Diablo Vista Middle School since 2002 prompted none of his coworkers or students to suspect such activity.

Although Wolf has not claimed innocence or admitted guilt thus far, he is currently being held on $1 million bail at the Martinez Detention Facility. The case is currently under investigation, and charges have not yet been filed.

As cybercrimes units employ more resources and increasingly sophisticated methods of locating child pornography offenders, the number of arrests is likely to increase. Individuals convicted of such crimes can expect significant lengths of prison time, as well as lasting damage to their reputations, careers, and personal lives.

The severe consequences of child pornography convictions make it imperative for the falsely accused to seek the assistance of a Florida cybercrimes attorney. The experienced professionals at Seltzer Law, P.A. understand the complexities of state and federal laws and will help you fight to preserve your freedom and good name. Contact us today at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) to schedule a free consultation.

August 18, 2014

Polk County Cybercrime Detection: “Sting” Vs. Entrapment (Are Overzealous Cybercrime Officers Targeting Innocent Adults?)

Facing arrest for a cybercrime in Florida is a serious matter, and it becomes worse when the accused is completely innocent. A recent sting operation in Polk County may have placed numerous individuals in this situation.

Polk County officers have been working hard to detect cybercrimes involving underage children. However, in their zeal to bring criminals to justice, they have engaged in behaviors possibly amounting to entrapment. Arrest affidavits in several cases include scenarios such as:

• Bait and switch. Police officers posing as adults on popular dating sites develop relationships with law-abiding men, then tell them they are actually underage. When the target of the operation tries to cut ties with the undercover officer, the latter attempts to persuade him to continue the relationship.

• Fake trafficking. Undercover officers occasionally pretend to be parents, offering their children to potential suitors. Whether the target shows interest in the child or not, he may be arrested for talking with the “parent.”

• Enticement.
Despite the target’s seeming lack of interest in sexual activity with a minor, the undercover officer continued to direct the conversation towards that topic.

As a result of these tactics, numerous men have experienced arrest and exposure to negative public attention, including having their mug shots included in press conferences regarding “sexual predators.” Charges in many of these men’s cases have since been cleared.

No conscientious police officer would knowingly target and arrest an innocent individual. However, in their quest to search out true cyber criminals, Polk County officials may have inadvertently done exactly this.

When internet crimes involve illicit activity with underage children, the consequences are often dire and lifelong. Prison time, sex offender registration, and job loss represent only a few of the potential penalties resulting from a conviction.

If you face charges due to a law enforcement entrapment operation, a Florida cybercrime attorney at Seltzer Law, P.A. can help. Contact us today at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) to begin clearing your name.

August 13, 2014

Is Pornography Like a Drug to People With Sexual Compulsions?

Among individuals accused of pornography related cybercrimes in Florida and across the United States, many misconceptions exist. Suspects are often labeled as sex or pornography “addicts,” but these terms may not describe the behaviors to which they refer as accurately as people might think.

Does sex addiction have the same effects on the brain as drug addiction? Recent studies suggest it does, but experts advise against drawing faulty conclusions prematurely based on this evidence.

About 4 percent of adults exhibit compulsive sexual behaviors, including obsessive thoughts, feelings, and physical acts. However, the medical community has much to learn about what causes these impulses and what effects they have on individuals.

In a recent University of Cambridge trial, researchers found similarities between the brain scans of individuals with sexual impulse control problems and those of drug addicts. The study observed the brain activity of nineteen male patients with compulsive sexual behaviors against that of nineteen healthy volunteers.

Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure subjects’ brain activity using blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signals. In the tests, the brains of patients experiencing compulsive sexual behavior displayed comparatively more activity in three regions:

Dorsal anterior cingulate.
This region generates connections between cravings and rewards.

Ventral striatum. This section helps individuals process “reward and motivation” signals.

Amygdala. This area of the brain processes the meanings of emotions and events.

Similar reactions occurred in drug addicts exposed to drug-related stimuli.

These weren’t the only correlations scientists found between drug addiction and compulsive sexual behavior. In our next post, we will explore the behavioral aspects of the University’s research and discuss what this study means for better understanding what makes habitual porn users tick.

If you have been accused of a cybercrime involving pornography, you may feel as though society or law enforcement have unfairly labeled you. David Seltzer, an experienced Florida cybercrime attorney, can help you build a strong legal case to preserve your freedom and restore your good name. Contact Seltzer Law today at 1 888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) for a free consultation regarding your defense.

August 4, 2014

Disney Employee Responds to Child Sex Allegations

Unfounded allegations of cybercrimes involving children can be devastating and can ruin the lives of innocent people. Florida residents facing such allegations might identify with the recent case of a Disney employee accused of soliciting a 14-year-old girl for sex. The case has caused significant hardship to the 49-year-old Orlando man, who has suffered serious consequences following his arrest.

Robert Kingsolver, a service repair supervisor at the Magic Kingdom, was arrested late last week after detectives said he arranged to meet an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old girl. Upon his arrest, Kingsolver admitted he set up the meeting, but insisted he was concerned about the girl’s behavior and only agreed to meet the girl to keep her out of harm’s way, according to media reports.

Kingsolver entered a not guilty plea to the solicitation charge and is free on bond, but he is a virtual prisoner inside his Orlando home. He is unable to work and can rarely leave the house because he is prohibited from having any contact with children. Kingsolver, whose children staunchly support him, told CNN his life is ruined because of the allegations. He is one of 35 Disney employees snared since 2006 in police stings aimed at combating child pornography and exploitation.

The case against Kingsolver is just one example of how even an accusation of a crime related to child exploitation or child pornography can be devastating. If you or someone you love has been falsely accused of cybercrimes such as these, it is imperative to contact a Florida cybercrimes attorney for an aggressive defense. Cybercrime lawyer David Seltzer has years of experience and can help guide you through this difficult time.

Seltzer Law, P.A. is available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Don’t fight cybercrime accusations alone. Call 1 888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) for your free legal consultation today.

July 30, 2014

Breaking News from U.S. Sentencing Commission Good News for Offenders

Individuals serving sentences for cybercrimes in Florida will likely be interested in a recent development out of Washington, D.C., which may predict a change in how courts enforce sentencing guidelines.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission released a statement on July 18 indicating retroactive reduced sentencing guidelines for individuals convicted of drug trafficking. According to this news release, those currently incarcerated for such crimes will become eligible for reduced sentences as early as November 2015.

This new development began in April 2014, when the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to decrease the “base offense levels” specified by the Drug Quantity Table, regardless of the type of drug. Since the decision, new defendants have been subject to the amended guidelines, often resulting in shorter sentences than those convicted prior to the change.

To eliminate or reduce this discrepancy, the Commission determined courts should apply the new guidelines to individuals who have already been convicted and begin issuing reduced sentences by November 1, 2015. Judges will review each case to determine whether an early release would pose a hazard to the public, or whether other circumstances might prevent an inmate from receiving a reduced sentence.

Not only will this initiative provide much-awaited clemency for prisoners, but it will also reduce severe crowding in prisons. The delayed implementation will allow authorities to arrange for adequate supervision and transitional services for each inmate.

This new development reflects a shift in the U.S. criminal justice system that will likely spread to other criminal areas. By allowing those currently incarcerated to enjoy reduced sentencing guidelines along with new defendants, the Commission has contributed to a fairer, more efficient, and less crowded prison system.

If you currently face Florida cybercrime charges, you are likely concerned about potential prison time. With the quality legal services of Seltzer Law, you will benefit from our years of experience helping clients get excellent results. For a free consultation regarding your case, contact us today at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333).

July 21, 2014

Teen in Virginia Sexting Case Accuses Authorities of Exploitation

In our last post, we introduced the story of a Manassas County, Virginia, teen accused of child pornography after he sent an explicit video to his 15-year-old girlfriend. As this strange case continues to unfold, numerous questions remain, including:

Was the act the 17-year-old committed really a crime if his girlfriend “precipitated” it with a “sext?”

Were the police within their rights to forcibly obtain a photo of the underage suspect’s erect penis?

Whose version of events is more accurate – that of the authorities, or that of the defense?

The complex circumstances surrounding this case may seem bizarre, but they are becoming more common as internet and smartphone users increasingly exchange explicit photos and videos. Recent cases have popped up all over the world in which individuals engage in virtual behaviors they may not realize are subject to cybercrime laws, including those regarding child pornography.

When using phones and computers to communicate, the best policy is to avoid any behavior that might be construed as illegal or become widely disseminated. Although individuals may believe a consensual relationship shields them from potential charges, complex laws govern the distribution of materials depicting nudity or sex acts. Protect yourself and your potential recipients from prosecution by refraining from sharing these images.

Similar to the teen in the Virginia sexting case, if you have been unfairly accused of a child pornography offense, you may feel mistreated and dehumanized by law enforcement officials. A Florida cybercrimes attorney with extensive knowledge of state and national laws can help you understand and assert your rights.

Cybercrimes lawyer David Seltzer has spent years working with defendants in complex cases regarding child pornography and other web-related charges. He works tirelessly to help clients wage strong defenses and avoid unwarranted punishments such as prison sentences, fines, and sex offender registration.

To set up your free consultation with Seltzer Law, contact us today at 1 888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333).

July 16, 2014

Bizarre Virginia Teenage Sexting Case Raises Questions about Police Behavior

Florida residents who face unfounded child pornography charges may sympathize with the case of a Virginia teenager whose recent arrest raised significant questions about the lengths to which law enforcement officials may go to obtain a conviction.

The story involves a young couple – a 15-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy – living in Virginia. The girl sent a “sext” to her boyfriend, to which he allegedly responded with an explicit video. When the girl’s mother discovered the video, she went to the police.

Manassas County police arrested the boy and took pictures of his genitals for evidence. His lawyer, Jessica Harben Foster, says Commonwealth Prince William County assistant attorney also pressured the boy to plead guilty. If he did not do so, Foster claims, police would have issued a warrant requiring the boy to provide a photo of his erect penis.

How would authorities accomplish such a task? According to Foster, the police would take the boy to the hospital, “give him a shot” to produce an erection, and obtain the photographs. The boy refused to plead guilty, and the court issued the search warrant.

Carlos Flores Laboy, the guardian of the accused, expressed outrage at the seeming hypocrisy of the Manassas County police. In their attempt to enforce a statute that protects children from sexual exploitation, Laboy asserts, law enforcement officials are engaging in exploitative behavior themselves.

The Commonwealth’s attorney, Paul Ebert, disputes the defense’s claims regarding how the police handled the case. Ongoing investigations and an upcoming court date will likely provide additional insight.

In our next post, we will discuss the precedent that exists for cases such as these, as well as their implications for individuals in consenting relationships.

Sexting, video messages, and other seemingly innocuous activities can spell trouble, regardless of whether the recipient is willing to receive them. If you are facing cybercrime charges in Florida, call Seltzer Law today at 1 888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) to begin your legal defense.

July 7, 2014

Columbus Medical Community Shocked by Pediatric Cancer Doctor’s Child Pornography Conviction

A once-renowned Columbus pediatric cancer physician will serve one year and one day in federal prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. Christopher Pelloski, 40, had been using his personal computer, as well as an Ohio State University laptop, to access videos and photos inappropriately depicting children.

Although Pelloski had been engaging in these activities since 2007, authorities did not apprehend him until last summer. Investigators located 85 images and 2 videos as evidence against the doctor, who admitted his crimes upon his arrest.

The case has caused significant turmoil within Pelloski’s family and within the Columbus medical community, in which Pelloski worked for years treating children with cancer. Although no evidence indicated he harmed any of his patients, he acknowledged the fear and pain his actions caused to these children and their families.

Pelloski has lost his license to practice medicine, but he hopes to work in clinical research and advocate against child pornography in the future. He must also pay $10,000 in fines, register as a sex offender, and remain under federal supervision for five years after leaving prison. His internet use will also be restricted.

In both Florida and Ohio, accessing or viewing online pornographic images of children represents a serious crime that can change lives forever. In addition to legal consequences, such as prison sentences and fines, convicted individuals often lose their jobs, families, and reputations.

If you have been falsely accused of cybercrimes related to child pornography, contact a Florida cybercrimes attorney as soon as possible to preserve your freedom and character. Cybercrime lawyer David Seltzer thoroughly understands the laws related to your case, and he can help you form a strong defense to get your life back.

Seltzer Law, P.A. is here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us today at 1 888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) for your free legal consultation.

July 2, 2014

Catholic Priest Pleads Guilty to Possessing over 1500 Child Pornographic Images

If you face Florida cybercrime charges, like possession of child pornography or solicitation, you may feel pretty trapped and scared about your future.

Odds are, however, that your case will get far less media attention than the case of Father Stanislaus Hogan, a Jesuit priest over in the UK, who collected 1,555 child pornographic images in his room at Saint Ignatius' College in Adelaide.

All told, the children in these publications ranged in age from 16-years-old to 3-months-old, and the 69-year-old allegedly compiled this trove over decades. Some of videos and magazines dated all the way back to the 1970s.

At a sentencing hearing, Hogan “made clear his intention to apply to be released from his vows.” One case observer said that Hogan had struggled all his life to try to reconcile his sexual proclivities with his line of work. He also confessed to having problems with alcohol – which his psychologist said stemmed from his inability to process his sexual impulses.

Approximately 70% of the images in his collection did not involve sexual activity, although they did involve nudity. Some images and videos, however, were highly explicit. He’s due to be sentenced in August.

Hogan’s tragic story is, tragically, a common one. People who want to watch child pornography often don’t understand where their impulses come from and don’t know how to control them. With proper counseling and intervention, people can get a handle on these impulses and stop them from wrecking their lives or at least from doing more damage than they’ve already done.

If you or someone you love stands accused of these kinds of charges, a Florida cybercrime attorney with Seltzer Law, PA, can help you put together an effective defense. Call us now at 1 888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) for a free consultation.