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Largest undercover child porn bust in Oneida County

By By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - State Police and the Oneida County District Attorney on Wednesday announced the largest ever undercover child pornography bust in the county.

The D.A.'s office, Child Advocacy Center, Utica, Rome and State Police worked on the investigation.

It was back in January that State Police first approached the D.A.'s office. Since then, investigators have spent days viewing graphic computer images that would force most to turn away from their monitor.

"You have to compartmentalize it and it's a very rewarding job when we can lock somebody up that's a purveyor of this stuff so that's how I deal with it," says veteran State Police Investigator Al Cordary.

Police went out last week with eight search warrants and came back with seven suspects:

*Stephen M. Deprospero, 35, of Rome;
*Shawn R. Gouse, 33, or Rome;
*Mathew R. Specht, 20, of Westmoreland;
*Rocco L. Ambrose III, 27, of Rome;
*James M. Gheen, 20, of Whitesboro;
*Brian R. Ingham, 22, of Rome
*David W. Saville, 24, of Rome.

Police say none represent cases where someone accidentally downloaded one or two obscene images.

"There's not one or two movies; not one or two still photos that these perverts are looking at; it's in excess of hundreds that they're actually viewing at any given time on any given day," says State Police Captain Francis Coots.

Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara says these cases don't involve 15-year-olds who look 25 years old.

"All of the cases we investigated involved infants to children that are approximately 12 years old. This is a situation where the children in these videos are pre-puberty children. There is absolutely no question that these are children," says McNamara.

McNamara couldn't elaborate on exactly how the investigative team was lead to the seven suspects; just that it involved investigators working in an undercover capacity. He says there is no reason to believe any of the images were generated locally or involved local children.

The seven suspects under arrest face charges of possessing or promoting the sexual performance of a child. The crime carries up to four years in prison on conviction, but there is not mandatory prison time for the crime on a first offense. That is why Oneida County prosecutors are attempting to prosecute the case federally--where punishments are more severe. They are already in contact with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

All but two of the men charged have posted bail and are out of jail.

The investigation is continuing. More arrests and charges are possible.

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