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Date: 08-26-2019

Case Style:

United States of America v. Patrick D. Falte, Benjamin A. Faulkner and Andrew R. Leslie

Case Number: 3:17-cr-00044

Judge: Waverly D. Crenshaw

Court: United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (Davidson County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: S. Carran Daughtrey, Byron M. Jones and Lauren E. Britsch

Defendant's Attorney: Kathleen G. Morris for Patrick Dane Falte


Luke A. Evans for Benjamin Alexander Faulker


Jennifer L. Thompson for Andrew Ryan Leslie


Isaiah S. Gant - FPD for Brett Allen Bedusek



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Description:




Nashville, TN - Franklin, Tennessee Man And Three Others Sentenced To Prison For Engaging In Global Child Exploitation Enterprise - TOR Network Sites Hosted Over 1 Million Members

The creator and lead administrator of a highly sophisticated “The Onion Router” (TOR)-network-based website dedicated to the sexual abuse of children was sentenced, along with three others, for their roles in a global child exploitation enterprise.

Patrick D. Falte, 29, of Franklin, Tennessee, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, three counts of advertising child pornography, and three counts of distributing child pornography. Benjamin A. Faulkner, 28, of Ontario, Canada, was sentenced to 35 years in prison; Andrew R. Leslie, 24, of Middleburg, Florida, was sentenced to 30 years in prison; and Brett A. Bedusek, 35, of Cudahy, Wisconsin, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, all for engaging in a child exploitation enterprise. Chief U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw of the Middle District of Tennessee also sentenced each defendant to a lifetime of supervised release. All were indicted in March 2017 and pleaded guilty to the charges last year.

“The sentences imposed on these despicable individuals should insure that they never have another opportunity to abuse another child,” said U.S. Attorney Don Cochran. “With all that we have, we will continue to hunt down the evil and abominable like-minded individuals who delight in abusing children and will bring them to justice.”

“The Giftbox Exchange proved a haven for sophisticated predators to produce and spread deplorable depictions of child sexual abuse,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Today’s sentences affirm that layers of anonymity on the dark web will not prevent the Department of Justice from identifying and holding accountable those who exploit children.”

In July 2015, Falte created a website called “The Giftbox Exchange” and operated it on the TOR network as a hidden service, meaning it could only be accessed by users through the TOR anonymity network. Falte paid for the operation of the site using the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. He acted as the lead administrator of the site and established rules that required users to upload and share images and videos depicting pre-teen children being sexually abused before being allowed access to the site.

The site was organized into different forums for posting different types of child pornography, categorized by age range of the minor victims, including a sub-forum for “Babies & Toddlers.” By the time the site was shut down by law enforcement in November 2016, it had over 72,000 registered users and 56,000 posts. In addition to operating the site on the TOR network, which masks the internet protocol addresses of the users, Falte and his co-conspirators used other advanced technological means to thwart law enforcement detection and investigative efforts, including file encryption and cryptography.

Faulkner joined The Giftbox Exchange in September 2015 and became an administrator of the site. In addition to his administration of The Giftbox Exchange, he created and administered another TOR network-based hidden service website dedicated to child sexual exploitation, which grew to host over 1 million members. Leslie, in addition to his membership on the The Giftbox Exchange, ran yet another TOR network-based hidden service website, which explicitly allowed images and videos depicting graphic and violent sexual abuse of children. Bedusek, who has a prior federal conviction for receipt of child pornography and engaged in activity on The Giftbox Exchange while on federal supervised release for that offense, was a VIP member, which gave him access to a special area of the site reserved for users who uploaded new or originally produced child pornography.

Falte and Faulkner were previously charged and convicted in the Eastern District of Virginia of operating an online network dedicated to child sexual exploitation, in connection with their sexual abuse of a toddler-aged minor to whom they gained access through an individual they met through The Giftbox Exchange. Both traveled to abuse that minor on multiple occasions and were sentenced in September 2017 to life in prison by U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr.

In addition, Andrew Leslie was previously charged and convicted in the Middle District of Florida, in connection with his sexual abuse and production of child pornography involving multiple children, including an infant and a toddler. In March 2018, Leslie was sentenced to 60 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Brian J. Davis.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations and the High Technology Investigative Unit of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Department of Justice.

This case was 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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, 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 www.justice.gov/psc.


Charges:


Falte


Indictment 3/29/17: 18:2252A(g) Engaging in a child exploitation enterprise
(1)

Indictment 3/29/17: 18:2251(d)(1)(A), 18:2251(d)(2)(B) and 18:2251(e) Conspiracy to advertise child pornography
(2)

Indictment 3/29/17: 18:2252(a)(2) and 18:2252(b)(1) Conspiracy to distribute child pornography
(3)

Indictment 3/29/17: 18:2251(d)(1)(A), 18:2251(d)(2)(B) and 18:2251(e) Advertising child pornography
(4-6)

Indictment 3/29/17: 18:2252(a)(2) and 18:2252(b)(1) Distribution of child pornography
(7-9)


Faulkner


Indictment 3/29/17: 18:2252A(g) Engaging in a child exploitation enterprise
(1)


Leslie:


Indictment 3/29/17: 18:2252A(g) Engaging in a child exploitation enterprise
(1)


Bedusek:


Indictment 3/29/17: 18:2252A(g) Engaging in a child exploitation enterprise
(1)



Outcome: Falte:


Plea of guilty to Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the Indictment (Counts 2 and 3 subsequently dismissed). Imprisonment for 240 months on Counts 7, 8, and 9; 360 months on Counts 4, 5, and 6; and 420 months on Count 1, all to be served concurrently with each other, and all to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed in E.D. Va. Case No. 3:17-cr-00049. Remanded to custody. Supervised release for life. $700 special assessment. $21,000.00 Restitution. Forfeiture as listed.


Faulkner:


Plea of guilty to Counts 1-3 (counts 2 and 3 subsequently dismissed) . Imprisonment for 420 months on Count 1, to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed in E.D. Va. Case No. 3:17-cr-00049. Remanded to custody. Supervised Release for life on Count 1, to be served concurrently with supervised release imposed in E.D. Va. Case No. 3:17-cr-00049. $100 special assessment. $21,000.00 Restitution. Forfeiture as listed.


Leslie:


Plea of guilty to Counts 1-3 (counts 2 and 3 subsequently dismissed). Imprisonment for 360 months on Count 1, to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed in M.D. Fla. Case No. 3:16-cr-154- J-39JBT. Remanded to custody. Supervised Release for Life. $100 special assessment. $21,000.00 Restitution. Forfeiture as listed.


Bedusek:


Plea of guilty to Counts 1-3 (counts 2 and 3 subsequently dismissed). Imprisonment for 240 months. Remanded to custody. Supervised Release for Life. $100 special assessment. $21,000.00 Restitution. Forfeiture as listed.
08/19/2019 244 ORDER as to Andrew Ryan Leslie: Before the Court is the parties' joint motion to include stipulated restitution amounts in Defendant's final judgment. (Doc. No. 241.) Defendant has conceded that his final Judgment should require him to pay $3,000 to seven victims, for a total of $21,000 in restitution. (Id.) Defendant agrees to make these restitution payments because his criminal activity directly and proximately contributed to the victims' psychological and emotional harm. (Id. at 2.) The motion (Doc. No. 241 ) is GRANTED and the restitution amounts shall be reflected in Defendant's Final Judgment. Signed by Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr on 8/19/2019. (eh) (Entered: 08/19/2019)
08/19/2019 245 CONSENT PRELIMINARY ORDER OF FORFEITURE as to Benjamin Alexander Faulkner. Signed by Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr on 8/19/2019. (eh) (Entered: 08/19/2019)
08/19/2019 246 ORDER as to Brett Allen Bedusek: Before the Court is the parties' joint motion to include stipulated restitution amounts in Defendant's final judgment. (Doc. No. 243.) Defendant has conceded that his final Judgment should require him to pay $3,000 to seven victims, for a total of $21,000 in restitution. (Id.) Defendant agrees to make these restitution payments because his criminal activity directly and proximately contributed to the victims' psychological and emotional harm. (Id. at 2.) The motion (Doc. No. 243 ) is GRANTED and the restitution amounts shall be reflected in Defendants Final Judgment. Signed by Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr on 8/19/2019. (eh) (Entered: 08/19/2019)
08/19/2019 247 ORDER as to Patrick Dane Falte, Benjamin Alexander Faulkner, Andrew Ryan Leslie, Brett Allen Bedusek: All Defendants have now stipulated to restitution amounts based upon agreement that their criminal activity in this case directly and approximately contributed to the victims' psychological and emotional harm, and the Court has included the stipulated restitution amounts in Defendants final judgments. Accordingly, the hearing for that purpose set for November 4, 2019 is CANCELED. Signed by Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr on 8/19/2019. (eh) (Entered: 08/19/2019)
08/19/2019 248 JUDGMENT on sentencing held 8/9/19 as to Andrew Ryan Leslie: Plea of guilty to Counts 1-3 (counts 2 and 3 subsequently dismissed). Imprisonment for 360 months on Count 1, to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed in M.D. Fla. Case No. 3:16-cr-154-J-39JBT. Remanded to custody. Supervised Release for Life. $100 special assessment. $21,000.00 Restitution. Forfeiture as listed. Signed by Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr on 8/19/2019. (eh) (Entered: 08/20/2019)
08/19/2019 249 SEALED STATEMENT OF REASONS re: 248 Judgment as to Andrew Ryan Leslie (Copy mailed to counsel as attachment to copy of Judgment.) (Attachment: # 1 Sentencing Transcript Excerpt)(eh) (Entered: 08/20/2019)
08/19/2019 250 JUDGMENT on sentencing held 8/9/19 as to Brett Allen Bedusek: Plea of guilty to Counts 1-3 (counts 2 and 3 subsequently dismissed). Imprisonment for 240 months. Remanded to custody. Supervised Release for Life. $100 special assessment. $21,000.00 Restitution. Forfeiture as listed. Signed by Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr on 8/19/2019. (eh) (Entered: 08/20/2019)
08/19/2019 251 SEALED STATEMENT OF REASONS re: 250 Judgment as to Brett Allen Bedusek (Copy mailed to counsel as attachment to copy of Judgment.) (Attachment: # 1 Sentencing Transcript Excerpt)(eh) (Entered: 08/20/2019)

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