Oklahoma Man Pleads Guilty in Fresno to Child Porn Distribution - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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Oklahoma Man Pleads Guilty in Fresno to Child Porn Distribution

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Photo of A computer forensic analyst reviews a case inside the Victim Identification Lab
A computer forensic analyst reviews a case at Homeland Security's Child Exploitation Investigations Unit, in Fairfax, Va., Nov. 22, 2019. (AP File)
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An investigation spanning three U.S. states and Canada will put a child pornography distributor behind bars for up to 30 years.

Austen Peppers, 34, of Lawton, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty on Monday in Fresno federal court to one count each of advertising and distributing child pornography, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said in a news release.

Peppers’ plea follows a probe by Homeland Security Investigations offices in Fresno, Chicago, and Oklahoma, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol Tactical Team assisted in the investigation.

Sells Child Porn on Dark Web

According to court documents, Peppers sold and offered to sell images of minors being sexually abused. Peppers conducted these transactions on the dark web using platforms and applications that he believed were secure and protected him from law enforcement scrutiny.

Peppers has been in custody since his initial appearance in this case on Nov. 14, 2019. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 17, 2023, by U.S. District Judge Ana de Alba.

Peppers faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and up to 30 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, a lifetime term of supervised release, forfeiture of property, and possible restitution to victims, according to the Department of Justice.

Fresno-based Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gappa is prosecuting the case along with veteran Trial Attorney James Burke IV of the DOJ Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

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