Casas pleads guilty to 2 counts involving child porn
Cassville man enters plea agreement for 15-25 years in prison
A Cassville man facing federal child pornography charges recently entered an agreement and changed his pleas from not guilty to guilty, settling to two federal counts stemming from a superseding indictment on July 22, 2014.
Matthew Casas, 26, of Cassville, pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography, a class C felony, and possessing child pornography with an intent to distribute, a class C felony. The plea agreement means the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri dismissed one of the three counts against him, a class B felony charge of sexual exploitation of children.
For pleading guilty to distributing child pornography, Casas faces 5-20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, no less than five years to a lifetime of supervised release and a $100 mandatory special assessment per felony count of conviction, which must be paid in full at the time of sentencing.
For pleading guilty to possessing child pornography, Casas faces no more than 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, no less than five years to a lifetime of supervised release and a $100 mandatory special assessment per felony count of conviction, which must be paid in full at the time of sentencing.
Casas' plea was entered in the courtroom of District Judge M. Douglas Harpool, and his case has been transferred to District Judge Stephen Bough for sentencing. A sentencing hearing date has not yet been determined.
According to court documents, however, Casas and the Attorney's Office have agreed to a range of punishment.
"In exchange for the government dismissing [the sexual exploitation of children charge] of the superseding indictment, and in recognition of the impact a trial could have upon his family members, [Casas] and the government have agreed to a sentence of not less than 15 years and not more than 25 years," the plea agreement said. "The defendant and the government respectfully request the court consider that range of punishment when imposing a sentence."
The document also states the guidelines are advisory in nature, and the court may impose a sentence either less than or greater than the range given. Any sentence of imprisonment will also not allow for parole.
Casas was originally indicted on April 1, 2014, on the two charges to which he has now pleaded guilty. The superseding indictment on July 22, 2014, tacked on the class B felony charge of sexual exploitation of children, which has now been dropped as part of the plea deal.
The complaint against Casas was filed in March of 2014 by Brian Martin, former task force officer with the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force.
According to a report released by Martin, Casas had rented a smart TV and allegedly left child pornography stored on the device's memory. Law enforcement officers reviewed the images on the set, which the report said were believed to be homemade and created by a Kodak Easy Share camera. The camera, two cell phones and a laptop computer were then seized by authorities.
Casas is also accused of loading a number of images onto Facebook and Flickr websites. The report said those were numerous images known to be commercially available and actively traded among child pornography collectors and viewers.
Task forces officers, aided by members of the Cassville Police Department and the Barry County Sheriff's Department, executed a search warrant at Casas' home on Feb. 28, 2014. According to Martin's report, Casas took a considerable amount of time to answer the door, as officers observed he was in the home. Casas opened the door as officers were preparing to force entry.
During an initial interview in a task force officer's vehicle, Casas denied ever looking at child pornography. He later allegedly admitted obtaining the pornography from a coworker at Justin Boots, and that he had posted images on the Facebook and Flickr accounts. He also allegedly admitted owning an SD memory card with pornographic content, about three weeks earlier, that contained thousands of images and hundreds of movies.