Neosho Sex Offender Sentenced to 15 Years for Child Pornography | USAO-WDMO

SPRINGFIELD, MO (USDOJ.Today) A prior sex offender in Neosho, Missouri, was sentenced in federal court today for receiving and distributing child pornography.

Benjamin H. Cole, 39, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes to 15 years and eight months in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced Cole to spend the rest of his life on supervised release following incarceration, and to pay $3,000 in victim restitution. Cole will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison and will be subject to federal and state sex offender registration requirements, which may apply throughout his life.

Cole, who was sentenced as a prior sex offender, has a prior conviction for second degree sodomy.

On Feb. 11, 2020, Cole pleaded guilty to receiving and distributing child pornography. The investigation began when law enforcement received a series of Cybertips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2018. Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Cole’s residence on Aug. 5, 2019, and seized his cell phone and a desktop computer, which both contained images and videos of child pornography.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by the Neosho, Mo., Police Department, the FBI, and the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force.

Project Safe Childhood

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.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”

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