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Probation officer convicted on child porn charges


PROVIDENCE — A Rhode Island probation officer assigned to the sex offender unit was convicted by a federal jury on Monday on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography.

Gerald J. Silva, 59, of Coventry, was found guilty of six counts of receiving child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. The decision was announced by U.S. States Attorney Peter F. Neronha in a press release Tuesday.

Silva was ordered detained following his conviction. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith on May 16.

The punishment for receipt of child pornography is a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison and up to a lifetime of supervised release. Possession of child pornography is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison

The jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges after less than an hour of deliberation on Monday.

Prosecutors say Silva argued to the jury that he ordered and collected the videos as part of a project he had undertaken in his role as a state probation officer.

Authorities say an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Toronto Police Service, named Operation Spade, resulted in the discovery of more than 10,000 customers who had videos shipped to the United States.

Silva was arrested in September 2012 by postal inspectors when the investigation revealed Silva was among the list of those who purchased videos depicting child pornography from a Toronto-based company and had the videos shipped to addresses in the U.S.

Prosecutors said between October 2011 and April 2012, Silva purchased 75 videos depicting prepubescent males involved in child pornography in 22 separate orders for $1,589.

According to evidence presented by the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly, postal inspectors assisted Coventry police and Rhode Island State Police troopers and officers from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in a court-authorized search of Silva’s home on Sept. 27, 2012, at which time they seized numerous DVDs depicting child pornography and a computer.



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