Charles Edward Reese pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce child pornography and wire fraud before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn.
According to information presented in court, on February 1, 2012, federal officials conducted a search warrant at a home in Orange County, Texas after receiving information from an Internet-based image hosting website reporting that a customer had uploaded digital images from a cell phone that contained sexually explicit conduct of a young child and an adult. An investigation revealed that although the adult in the photos was deceased, another person identified as Charles Reese had been paying money for several years in return for digital pictures of sexually explicit conduct involving minor children. On March 12, 2012, a search warrant was executed at Reese’s home in Covington, during which multiple child pornography images and videos were discovered. Financial records indicate Reese paid over $700,000 between 2004 and 2012 for the production of child pornography. Further investigation revealed Reese defrauded New Orleans based Champagne Beverage Inc., where he was a long-time employee and chief financial officer, by executing wire transfers and checks on the company’s business bank accounts to fund the illegal activity. Reese was arrested on March 5, 2012 and indicted by a federal grand jury on March 21, 2012.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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.
Reese faces a minimum of 15 years, and up to 30 years, in federal prison for the child pornography violation and an additional 20 years for the wire fraud offense. A sentencing date has not been set.
This case is being investigated by the FBI, Jefferson County Child Protective Services, the Garth House, and Orange County Sheriff’s Office and is being prosecuted by Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher T. Tortorice.