SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Springfield, Missouri, man who was scheduled to begin his criminal jury trial today instead pleaded in federal court to receiving child pornography over the internet.
Scott James Wells, 55, withdrew his plea of not guilty before U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool in order to enter a nolo contendre, or “no contest,” plea, neither admitting nor disputing the federal charges against him, but acknowledging the government had sufficient evidence to convict him of the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt. The court found Wells guilty of one count of receiving and distributing child pornography. Wells remains detained in federal custody until his sentencing hearing.
Wells received child pornography over the internet between Dec. 15, 2016, through March 22, 2017. Law enforcement received two CyberTipline reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after Wells used his Facebook account to transmit two images of child pornography to another Facebook user.
Officers executed a search warrant at Wells’s residence and seized his laptop computer, which contained child pornography.
Under federal statutes, Wells is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 20 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James J. Kelleher and Nhan Nguyen. It was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force.