Tuscola man convicted of child porn charges

URBANA — The last of eight men indicted by federal authorities last fall in a sweep of child pornographers in East Central Illinois has been convicted.

A jury in Urbana deliberated about 90 minutes Wednesday before finding Parrish Kappes, 47, of Tuscola guilty of distribution and possession of child pornography.

Judge Michael McCuskey set sentencing for Jan. 31. Kappes has been in custody since his arrest in October 2012.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly Peirson presented evidence that Kappes distributed sexually explicit videos of minors on three separate occasions in August and September of 2012. The jury heard that he possessed nearly 200 movie files and 2,000 images depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, including violent depictions of rape and torture of children under 10 years old.

Jurors also heard that Kappes took pictures of young girls dressed in bathing suits in his Tuscola neighborhood from his backyard.

Distribution of child pornography, the more serious of the charges, carries a prison term of between five and 20 years.

Kappes was part of a five-month, multicounty joint investigation last year dubbed "Operation Blue Monday" that resulted in the arrests and convictions of eight men for federal child pornography offenses.

Trained through the Illinois attorney general's office's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, police used investigative software and techniques to identify Internet Protocol addresses that offer to trade child pornography through the Internet. Knowing the IP address, police then figure out who the subscribers are and gather enough evidence to make arrests.

The other defendants in that sweep were:

— Remington L. Goodenough, 21, of Edina, Minn., a student at the University of Illinois, who lived on White Street in Champaign. He was arrested in November and pleaded guilty in August to one count each of trafficking, receiving and possession of child pornography. Goodenough was released to the custody of his parents following his initial court appearance Nov. 28 but was arrested again Feb. 26 after violating the conditions of his bond. He remains in custody and is set to be sentenced Jan. 10.

— Oscar Hernando Moreno Torres, 39, of the 2000 block of South Orchard Lane, Urbana, also a UI student and a Colombian national in the country on a student visa, was sentenced last week to 31/2 years in prison after pleading guilty in May to one count of possession of child pornography.

— Erick Barthelemy, 27, of the 400 block of West Vine Street, Champaign, was arrested in September 2012. In March he pleaded guilty to two counts of distribution and one count of possession of child pornography and was sentenced in June to 10 years in prison.

— Danny L. Smith, of the 600 block of East 13th Street, Georgetown, was arrested in September 2012 and pleaded guilty to three counts of distribution and one count possession of child pornography. He was sentenced in July to 11 years in prison.

— Mu-Tsun Tsai, 27, of the 500 block of South First Street, Champaign, a UI graduate student and Taiwanese national here on a student visa, was arrested in July. He pleaded guilty in September to one count of distribution, one count of receipt and one count of possession of child pornography. Sentencing is set for Jan. 13, 2014.

— Dustin R. Underwood, 19, of Clinton was arrested in August 2012 and pleaded guilty in April to two counts of distribution and one count of possession of child pornography. He was sentenced in August to five years in prison.

— Zachary M. Vincent, 21, of Tuscola was arrested in October 2012 and in August pleaded guilty to three counts of distribution and one count possession of child pornography. Sentencing is set for Dec. 6, 2013.

The cases were brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.

In addition to ICE's Homeland Security Investigations and the Urbana and Champaign police departments, the U.S. attorney's office also had help from the Mattoon, Decatur and UI police departments, Illinois State Police, the Vermilion County Sheriff's Office and the Illinois secretary of state.

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Heather J. wrote on October 04, 2013 at 12:10 pm

So glad these SICKOS are being caught and locked up. Sick, sick, sick......