Robinson Twp. Man Pleads Guilty in International Investigation into Darknet Sale of Child Exploitation Videos and Images | USAO-WDPA

PITTSBURGH, PA – A resident of Robinson Township, Pennsylvania, waived indictment and pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of violating federal child exploitation laws, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Anthony Bellisario, 57, pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge Robert J. Colville.

In connection with the guilty plea, the Court was advised that as a result of a large-scale, international investigation into the Darknet site “Welcome 2 Video”, which offered child sexual exploitation images and videos for sale using the cryptocurrency bitcoin, Bellisario was identified as a user of this Website. Namely, from January 21, 2017 through February 27, 2018, Bellisario downloaded approximately 1,673 files of child sexual abuse material (commonly referred to as child pornography) and uploaded approximately six files to the Website and in return received credits to obtain “free” videos of child sexual abuse material. The Court was further advised that on March 27, 2018, during the execution of a federal search warrant at Bellisario’s residence, law enforcement seized two laptops owned by Bellisario. On these laptops, law enforcement found 1,000 unique videos and 443 unique images of child sexual abuse material; as well as 769 unique videos and 9,340 unique images of child erotica. Bellisario further admitted hat he used a Virtualized Private Network (VPN) in an effort to mask his identity online because he “[knew] what [he was] doing was illegal. That way people can’t find you for doing things that are illegal.”

Judge Colville scheduled sentencing for January 5, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of not less than five and not more than 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca L. Silinski is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations, with the assistance of the North Strabane Police Department, Robinson Township Police Department and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Bellisario.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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