Federal charge carries penalty of up to 40 years in prison
BRUNSWICK, GA: A former U.S. Navy petty officer stationed at Submarine Base Kings Bay awaits sentencing after admitting to distribution of child pornography.
Anthony Gabriel Ortiz, 23, of Kings Bay, Ga., pled guilty in U.S. District Court to Distribution of Child Pornography, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, up to 40 years, along with substantial financial penalties and restitution, followed by up to life on supervised release and registration as a sex offender.
There is no parole in the federal system.
“The distribution of child pornography endlessly perpetuates the victimization of innocent children,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “By admitting to this charge, Anthony Ortiz will be held accountable for his despicable contributions to this exploitive trade.”
As described in court documents and testimony, Ortiz was in the U.S. Navy assigned to the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, S.C., when investigators with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in early 2019 found online images of child pornography shared via a messaging application. RCMP alerted the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Cyber Crimes Center, and HSI contacted the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).
Ortiz, a petty officer third class, transferred in April 2019 to Submarine Base Kings Bay in Kingsland, Ga., where he later was interviewed by HSI and NCIS investigators. He was taken into custody after admitting to possessing and distributing child pornography over the internet, and multiple images and videos of child sexual exploitation were found on electronic devices in his possession.
“Mr. Ortiz deserves to be held fully accountable for these truly reprehensible crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas Cannizzo of the NCIS Southeast Field Office. “NCIS exists to protect Department of the Navy personnel and their families from harm. We remain committed to working with our law enforcement partners to root out and fully investigate sexual predators who prey on and exploit vulnerable children.”
“Every time one of these disturbing images is shared or viewed the subject is revictimized, causing a cycle of never-ending trauma. That’s why finding and arresting the people involved in this exploitive behavior is so important for the safety of the children in our communities.,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “In order to stop these predators law enforcement, community partners, parents, family and friends must work together.”
Anyone with information on suspected child sexual exploitation can contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-843-5678, or https://report.cybertip.org/.
This investigation took place under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood, and was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The case is being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Kirkland and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator Tara M. Lyons.
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