An Ocean Springs man set for trail in April on federal sex crime charges pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court to charges of production, transportation, distribution and possession of child pornography.
Philip Joseph Spear, 59, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr.
U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze made the announcement after court.
Spear was taken into custody in September 2016 during a raid of his home when federal agents seized numerous electronic devices including computers, a camera and hard drives. A forensic examination showed numerous images and videos of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
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After his arrest, Spear told an investigator he has had an interest in sex with children since he was 12, records show. He said he’d been downloading child porn since he lived in the Philippines five or six years ago, according to documents.
In court, Spear pleaded guilty to two counts of production of child pornography, one count of production of child pornography by a person who has custody of a minor, one count of transportation of child pornography, one count of distribution of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.
Spear is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. June 7 in Guirola’s courtroom. He faces the maximum penalties for the crimes which could mean 130 years in prison and more than $1.2 million in fines.
The maximum penalties for the crimes charged are as follows:
▪ Production of child pornography: 30 years and a $250,000 fine on each count;
▪ Production of child pornography by a person who has custody of a minor: 30 years and a $250,000 fine;
▪ Transportation of child pornography: 30 years and a $250,000 fine;
▪ Distribution of child pornography: 20 years and a $250,000 fine; and
▪ Possession of child pornography; 20 years and a $250,000 fine.
This case was investigated by the FBI Jackson Division’s Child Exploitation Task Force, which is made up of agents from the FBI and the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office and prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Offices in Oxford and Jackson. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Jones is prosecuting the case for the government.
Staff writer Margaret Baker contributed to this report.