Federal raid near Alhambra results in child porn charges

Highland News LeaderJuly 11, 2014 

— A day after tactical units were used to serve a search warrant on his home, federal authorities filed a three-count indictment against a rural Alhambra man on child pornography charges.

Robert E. Godsey, 34, was charged Friday in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis with receipt, possession and distribution of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Federal agents, backed by local law enforcement, raided Godsey's home in rural northeastern Madison County on Thursday morning. Authorities used a farm west of Livingston as a staging ground before moving on Godsey's home, located about three miles away, near the intersection of Silver Creek and Mriscin roads in Olive Township, between Livingston and Alhambra.

Law enforcement also had another staging area at A.R. Graiff Elementary School in Livingston. Among the assets stationed at the school were tactical vehicles from the Alton Police Department, Madison County Sheriff's Office, a mobile command center for the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, an ambulance, an ARCH medical helicopter and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter.

Jim Porter, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Illinois, would not comment as to the scale of force used in executing the search warrant, other than to say authorities want to be prepared for what they "reasonably expect might happen."

"It's better to be over-prepared," he said.

In an affidavit filed with the court, Special Agent John Taylor, the resident agent in charge of the Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) in St. Louis, said authorities seized a Samsung notebook computer, a Maxtor One Touch external hard drive, and a Western Digital external hard drive from Godsey's bedroom during their search. Godsey, who was at home, was taken into custody, according to the affidavit.

According to Taylor's affidavit, Godsey admitted to investigators that the computer and hard drives were his and that approximately 600 videos and over 1,000 images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct were on the notebook computer. Some of the minors depicted were under the age of 12, according to court documents.

"He (Godsey) said that he had been collecting child pornography for many years, and trades the child pornography" via the Internet, Taylor said in his affidavit.

According to Taylor's affidavit, federal authorities began to investigate Godsey in May, when HIS agents in Detroit said one of their targets had allegedly traded images of child pornography with an email address that was linked to Godsey. Taylor also said that the same email address had been brought to the attention of another federal agency through a cyber-tip report in June 2013 from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Taylor's affidavit said Godsey told authorities he had been collecting child pornography since he was approximately 17 years old.

Two of the counts filed against Godsey carry a sentencing range of five to 20 years in prison, if convicted. The third count carries a possible penalty not to exceed 20 years.