Crime

Owner of Coast restaurant delivery business gets federal prison time for online ‘research’

Steven Dedual Jr.
Steven Dedual Jr.

Steven DeDual Jr., who with his wife started a business delivering meals from Coast restaurants, will be going to federal prison for 13 years after pleading guilty Monday to a child-pornography charge.

The business — We Dash, You Dine — has closed, according to a recording on the telephone line.

Homeland Security agents were prepared to testify that numerous child-pornography images were downloaded to two computers DeDual owned, one at his business in Gulfport and another in Ocean Springs, where he also worked and lived.

DeDual downloaded videos in 2016 using peer-to-peer file sharing software, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea C. Jones told District Judge Sul Ozerden, who sentenced DeDual. Jones described videos with titles that referred to girls 9 and 10 years old engaged in sexual acts with their fathers.

DeDual told agents he watched the videos at his office, then deleted them. DeDual, 45, said he sometimes selected videos to download overnight at his business so he could watch them the next day.

DeDual had a Gulfport business on Pass Road, but it was not identified in court proceedings. Jones also referred to a business he owned with his wife in Ocean Springs.

The Sun Herald featured the DeDuals in a March 2016 article about their restaurant meal delivery business. For a fee, the business delivered restaurant meals to customers in D’Iberville and Ocean Springs.

Before DeDual was sentenced, his wife sent Ozerden an 11-page, handwritten letter asking for leniency. She described DeDual as her “Prince Charming,” saying they had been married 23 years and raised two children.

“My husband is a wonderful, generous and sweet person,” she wrote. “I am proud to be his wife. He is not a monster. He just made a huge mistake and I know he is truly sorry and regrets what he has done.”

DeDual’s mother also sent the judge a letter. She wrote: “We know that Steven allowed himself to get caught up in a situation where he thought he could do research and do some good. Instead, he is now in a situation that has all but destroyed his life.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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