Christopher Clark Pollett, 63, and Mario Joseph Ruffino, 29, both of Houston, have entered pleas of guilty for possession of child pornography, United States Attorney Ken Magidson announced today.Pollett was indicted January 12, 2011, and entered a guilty plea to one count of possession of child pornography before United States District Judge Lee Rosenthal just a few minutes ago, while Ruffino, indicted February 23, 2011, pleaded guilty to the same charge before United States District Judge Melinda Harmon this morning. While unrelated cases, both men were found to be using peer-to-peer (P2P) software to make child pornography available to others over the Internet.
The investigation into Pollett began when an officer was able, on several occasions, to download multiple images and videos of child pornography from Pollett which were made available to after Pollett placed them in the “shared” folder on his computer. These images included children under the age of 12 being sexually violated by adults, in positions which caused their genitalia to be displayed in a lewd/lascivious manner and being penetrated by a foreign object. Evidence showed that there were several computers in the home when the FBI executed a federal search warrant on June 17, 2010.
In addition to the computer media found in his home, Pollett had 8 mm film reels, books and binders which contained images of naked minors. The examination of the items found revealed more than 17,000 digital images and approximately 400 videos which contained child pornography.
The investigation further revealed that Pollett was employed by Neighborhood Center Inc ., a non-profit organization dedicated to after school programs and community development in southwest Houston.
In an unrelated case, Ruffino was also identified as making child pornography available to others through the use of P2P software. A list of 110 files being made available by Ruffino was reviewed by law enforcement which were found to be consistent with images and videos involving child pornography. A consensual encounter with law enforcement resulted in a search of Ruffino’s computer on which a forensic examination was conducted and 692 images of child pornography and 121 videos of child pornography were discovered.
These images included children under the age of 12 tied up and being penetrated by adult male genitalia.
The two unrelated investigations were conducted by the FBI Innocent Images Task Force which includes members of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Pollett and Ruffino will be sentenced on April 10 and February 24, 2012, respectively, at which time they each face up to 10 years’ imprisonment in addition to a $250,000 maximum fine. They will both have to register as sex offenders and each will serve a term of at least five years and up to life on supervised release.
These cases, both prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sherri L Zack, were 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, 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 http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov .