Thomas O’Brien, 51, of Portsmouth, was sentenced Monday in federal court to 72 months in federal prison followed by lifetime supervised release for receiving and possessing more than 1,100 images and videos of child pornography.
O’Brien was also ordered by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith to continue an earlier court order that he post warning signs on his Newport Diving Center business that minors are prohibited from entering the establishment without the supervision of an adult.
O’Brien pleaded guilty to the charges in March 2011.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.
According to court records and information presented to the court, in August 2008, based on information provided to the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) by law enforcement authorities in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada, investigators were led to a “teen modeling” Web site that facilitated meetings between child pornography collectors and the defendant, O’Brien.
On Aug. 18, 2008, O’Brien consented to a search of his home and a forensic preview of digital media in his home including computers. On Aug. 20, 2008, acting on a state search warrant, ICAC and FBI agents executed a complete search of the defendant’s digital media, which revealed more than 1,100 images and videos of child pornography.
During voluntary interviews with investigators, the defendant described a relationship with a minor who lived in Kansas City, which began in June 2005 through an Internet chat room. O’Brien admitted to sending the minor cash and providing the minor with an Internet camera, which was used to provide O’Brien with pornographic pictures and videos of the victim and a friend of the victim.
O’Brien was arrested in September 2010 and released on $50,000 unsecured bond. At the time of his initial court appearance, as a condition of bail, O’Brien was ordered by the court to have no contact with minors, including at his business.
The court ordered O’Brien to post warning signs that minors are prohibited from allowing entering his business establishment unless accompanied by an adult.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly. O’Brien has been ordered to begin serving his prison sentence by October 11.
The Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is a Department of Justice grant-funded program administered by the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit, comprised of five State Police detectives, detectives from the Providence Police Department, West Warwick Police Department, Coventry Police Department and an agent from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations (ICE).