published Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Georgia man to plead guilty to transporting child pornography


by Monica Mercer

Although a Georgia man plans to plead guilty to bringing child pornography into Tennessee, authorities still are investigating the circumstances surrounding his activities, which involved running a child pornography Web site and, at one point, offering a young boy for sexual purposes to undercover agents.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Schwing only would say that there is “an ongoing investigation” with regard to defendant Gary E. Salles, who faces years in prison after his expected guilty plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga.

Mr. Salles was scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday, but defense attorney Mary Ellen Coleman asked the judge for more time because Mr. Salles “has questions about sentencing.”

Caught in January at a Winchester, Tenn., motel trying to give drugs and a DVD containing pornographic images and videos of children to undercover police, Mr. Salles could face up to 40 years in prison. He is charged with one count of transporting child pornography across the state line and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

“It’s a cooperation agreement,” Mr. Schwing said of the plea deal that Mr. Salles signed with prosecutors.

He noted that such agreements usually require defendants to tell authorities everything they know about the circumstances of the crimes in question.

Mr. Schwing declined to comment on whether anyone helped Mr. Salles, 57, in his child pornography activities or whether others could be indicted with regard to a Web site called bois4men.com that Mr. Salles apparently ran from his residence in Smyrna, Ga. He also would not comment when asked if Mr. Salles had produced the content for the site himself.

Although Mr. Salles offered to bring a young boy to the motel in Winchester, there was no boy present when authorities arrested him, Mr. Schwing said.

Mickey L. Lattimore, an apparent associate of Mr. Salles, also was arrested at the same time but never was charged with a child pornography crime. Mr. Lattimore pleaded guilty this week to possession with intent to distribute meth.

According to the criminal complaint against Mr. Salles, which details how investigators caught him, the defendant admitted that he started selling meth and became involved in child porn after he lost his job at IBM in 2007.

Mr. Salles said he has since made a profit of about $15,000 selling meth. He also said he had been operating an Internet site “geared toward pedophiles and has received 50-60 child pornographic images via e-mail and sent at least 250 child pornographic images to six different individuals via e-mail,” the complaint states.

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