New plea of guilty in Middleburg child porn caseNASHVILLE – A Middleburg man whose federal child pornography case was transferred to the Middle District of Tennessee last spring has entered a …
New plea of guilty in Middleburg child porn case
NASHVILLE – A Middleburg man whose federal child pornography case was transferred to the Middle District of Tennessee last spring has entered a guilty plea, according to documents made public in Nashville, Tennessee on Nov. 16.
Andrew Ryan Leslie, 22, of Middleburg voluntarily entered a guilty plea to one count each of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, conspiring to advertise child pornography and conspiring to distribute child pornography. Count one carries with it a maximum life prison sentence, while count two has a 30-year maximum and count three has a 20-year maximum. Each charge carries a $250,000 fine.
Leslie has been in federal custody since his arrest on October 18, 2016 but his case was transferred to federal court in Tennessee after investigators connected his case to an international child pornography ring in which Leslie and three other men used screen names and offered to buy and sell and produce images depicting child pornography.
Part of the so-called ‘Dark Web,’ the website Childs Play operated from April 2016 to September 2017. According to court documents, the crimes involved “one or more minor victims.”
According to court documents, Leslie and two others used the web-based Torrent anonymity system to run the site as a hidden service on the web. Authorities lodged nine counts of child pornography against apparent ring leader, Patrick Dane Falte. One of the site’s chief operators, Benjamin Alexander Faulkner, a Canadian resident, was arrested six months after taking over the site. Faulkner faces the same three counts as Leslie.
A fourth suspect, Brett Allen Bedusek, 34, also faces the same three charges as Leslie.
The investigation began July 16, 2015. On October 18, 2016, Homeland Security agents and other law enforcement executed a federal search warrant at Leslie’s home in Middleburg.
When they entered Leslie’s residence, Leslie emerged from the master bedroom where he said a toddler had been in bed with him when agents arrived.
During the search, agents located a digital camera next to Leslie’s bed in the master bedroom. Within the camera was a micro SD card containing a series of pornographic images depicting Leslie with two different minor children. In several of the images, the same toddler – approximately two years old – was depicted. Other images depicted a different infant less than a year old. These images depicted Leslie sexually abusing both children.
During the investigation, federal agents seized thousands of dollars worth of computer, data storage and video equipment from the four men who all lived in different states but connected via the internet.
Court filings say Leslie agreed to the guilty plea after discussing the plea with his attorney who also asked the court to accept Leslie’s plea.
Two-car crash kills two
LAKE ASBURY – Two people were killed in a two-vehicle crash that occurred on Russell Road last week, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
FHP said Kaitlyn Kane, 21, of Richmond, Texas was killed along with passenger Troy Livingston, 21, of Green Cove Springs, when the 1999 Honda Accord they were in collided with another vehicle at 8:25 a.m. on Nov. 14.
According to the FHP report, Kane was heading southbound on Russell Road when she veered into the northbound travel lane while passing a vehicle. FHP said Kane attempted to pass on a double solid lane marker, then veered back into the southbound lane.
FHP said, for reasons unknown, Kane’s Honda ran off the roadway onto the grass shoulder and then back onto the roadway again where it crossed the double solid lane marker.
FHP said Kane’s Honda traveled into the path of a 2010 Chrysler van being driven by James Smith, 54, of Green Cove Springs, struck the van’s front bumper and collided head-on.
Upon impact, the Honda rotated counter clockwise 360-degress and struck the rear bumper of of the Chrysler van and driver’s side doorway.
FHP said Kane was ejected after the collision, while Smith van’s veered right off onto the northbound side grass shoulder and came to rest.
The Honda came to final rest facing a westerly direction where it blocked the north and southbound lanes.
Smith was transported to Orange Park Medical Center where, last week, he was listed in serious condition, however, a passenger in his van, Misty Smith, 43, of Green Cove Springs, was not injured.
FHP searching for vehicle in hit-and-run
MIDDLEBURG – Florida Highway Patrol officials are looking for the suspect in an early morning hit and run that sent a Green Cove Springs man to the hospital with serious injuries on Nov. 19.
FHP said pedestrian Brandon Lee Bachelor, 24, was transported to the Orange Park Medical center after he was struck by a vehicle on Blanding Boulevard at Witch Hazel Road at 2:58 a.m.
According to the accident report, Bachelor was standing in the northbound lane of Blanding Boulevard when he was struck by the unknown vehicle. FHP said the vehicle is suspected of also traveling in the northbound lane at the time of the accident.
The vehicle struck Bachelor and threw him in the air before the vehicle fled the scene. Bachelor survived the impact but has serious injuries.
Troopers at the scene found evidence of a blue colored vehicle being involved. The report states that a pick-up truck is believed to be involved, most likely a Chevrolet Silverado or a GMC Sierra.
If you have any information relating to this incident, contact local law enforcement or the Florida Highway Patrol.
Woman faces elder battery charge
ORANGE PARK – An Orange Park area woman faces a felony charge of battery on a person age 65 or older after an investigation by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
Police arrested Penny Elaine Cunningham, 53, on Nov. 17 at 3:28 p.m. at a residence in the 500 block of Clermont Avenue where they were called about a disturbance.
According to the police report, the victim and one of her daughters were at the home when Cunningham arrived in an Uber. Police said Cunningham “was having trouble getting out of the Uber because she was extremely intoxicated.”
In the heavily redacted report, police indicated that, at some point, Cunningham got into an argument with her sister and 74-year-old mother about a phone.
During the argument, police said Cunningham allegedly slapped her mother in the face and on the chest “as she struggled to take the phone away.”
Police noticed red marks on the victim’s chest and collarbone but did not find redness or swelling on her face.
Police said when they attempted to interview Cunningham her speech “was mostly incoherent and every attempt to interview her resulted in her yelling and attempting to continue arguing with her mother.”
At press time, Cunningham remained in the Clay County Jail where her bond is set at $10,003.