Crime

Gulfport man admits accessing child pornography

GULFPORT -- A Gulfport man who pleaded guilty Wednesday to possession of child pornography was first touching himself and looking at sexually explicit images of children engaged in sex acts on a computer in the Liberty Center at the Naval Construction Battalion Center, Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenda Haynes said during the plea hearing.

John Daniel Wanzo, 26, was later charged with indecent acts as a result of the alleged acts at the Seabee Base -- all allegations Wanzo and his public defender, Ellen Allred, deny.

Haynes, however, said the government was prepared to prove those allegations as well as information about Wanzo admitting to downloading child porn from a soldier's computer to his computer. In addition, she said, the government was prepared to show authorities found 47 images of children engaged in sex acts and one video in a temporary folder on Wanzo's computer.

Also, she said, Wanzo had three sexually explicit images of children engaged in sex acts on his laptop computer. In his plea, Wanzo admitted to downloading the three images but denied accessing the 47 others.

"I would say he admits to accessing child pornography with intent to view (it)," Allred told U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden.

According to his indictment, Wanzo possessed child porn in Harrison County between May 1, 2012, and May 31, 2012.

Ozerden initially said he would not accept Wanzo's plea because of the dispute over the allegations. He later agreed to accept Wanzo's plea after Haynes said she would support Wanzo admitting to possessing the three images.

The government has recommended Wanzo serve five years under house arrest. In addition, restitution could be ordered to go the victims identified in the images.

Wanzo reserved the right to withdraw his plea if he did not agree with the amount of restitution in the case.

Wanzo was allowed to remain free on an unsecured $25,000 bond pending sentencing. As a condition of his bond, he was released to his father's custody to live with him in Jacksonville, Fla., under home confinement with electronic monitoring.

Wanzo has also been instructed to have no access to a computer or Internet-enabled cellphone unless it's for him to look for a job. Wanzo is also supposed to stay away from children, with the exception of his sister, who lives with his father.

Possession of child porn carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Ozerden set his sentencing Jan. 27.

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