A Westerly man who has been in federal custody for more than a year pleaded guilty Wednesday in a child pornography case.
In an appearance before U.S. District Court Judge John McConnell Jr. in Providence, the man, Jonathan Breslin, 33, pleaded guilty to charges of possession of child pornography, transferring obscene material to a minor, and two counts of receipt and distribution of child pornography.
Breslin, who entered into a plea agreement, has been held since his arrest in August 2017 and is due back in court for sentencing on Jan. 10, 2019. Federal sentencing guildelines for the various offenses call for penalties ranging up to 20 years.
In court proceedings on Wednesday, Breslin admitted exchanging sexually explicit images via social media applications, as well as sending sexually explicit images to a minor and trying to entice minors to create and share sexually explicit images and videos.
Breslin was arrested on Aug. 9, 2017, after agents with Homeland Security Investigations and the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force searched his home, assisted by members of the Westerly and Warwick police departments.
According to court documents, Breslin became a target of an international investigation in late March 2016. An officer in Saskatchewan, Canada, arrested a man in an unrelated case and detected on his cellphone a mobile chat application that was being used by a worldwide child pornography network.
The investigation led to the identification of 78 users, and the Canadian police provided the information to U.S. Homeland Security investigators. One of the American internet addresses belonged to Breslin, the authorities said.
In a raid of Breslin’s home, the law enforcement agents said they seized a computer, digital media storage device and a cellphone. A forensic audit of the devices led authorities to find at least 275 images and 46 videos containing child pornography, according to court records.