(STL.News) – A Campbellsville, Kentucky, man, has been sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment followed by a lifetime of supervised release for attempted receipt of child pornography and accessing the internet with intent to view child pornography, thanks to detection software monitored by United States Probation officers. James S. Wolfe, 56, was found guilty of the charges by jury trial in January after less than 30 minutes of deliberation.
LOUISVILE, Ky. – A Madison, Indiana, man, Jon Michael Helms, 46, was also sentenced on Monday. Helms was sentenced by United States District Judge Justin R. Walker to 30 years’ imprisonment followed by a lifetime of supervised release for interstate travel to engage in a sexual act with a child under 12.
There is no parole in the federal system.
“We as parents must face the reality of the growing threat to our kids from the combination of predators and technology; not just to other families or neighborhoods, but a risk to every household with a screen,” said U.S Attorney Russell Coleman. “ Though the bright spot being that whether the badge of a U.S. Secret Service Agent, Kentucky Attorney General Detective, U.S. Probation Officer, or credentials of a federal prosecutor, Kentucky law enforcement is unified in giving no quarter in battling to keep our children safe.”
U.S. v. James S. Wolfe
On July 2, 2019, a federal grand jury returned a two-count Superseding Indictment charging Wolfe with attempted receipt of child pornography and accessing with the intent to view child pornography. At the time of the charges, Wolfe was serving a 10-year term of Supervised Release imposed by the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. In that case, Wolfe pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography.
On November 29, 2017, Wolfe was released from the Bureau of Prisons and his 10-year term of Supervised Release commenced. The United States Probation Office in the Western District of Kentucky agreed to accept Wolfe for supervision after changes were made to the conditions of the supervision. Wolfe moved to Campbellsville, Kentucky, where he lived with his mother and older brother. He requested permission to have access to a computer. The United States Probation Office agreed to the request, but Wolfe was supposed to use the computer with internet access to seek employment and conduct routine business. And, the computer had to have monitoring software loaded on it to keep track of Wolfe’s activities. The supervising Probation Officer met with Wolfe and explained the monitoring process to him and his mother. Computer monitoring began on April 24, 2018.
Less than a week later, the monitoring company contacted the Probation Officer concerning Wolfe’s search activities. On May 7, 2018, the Probation Office received notification that Wolfe’s computer was not reporting back to the monitoring company’s servers. Two days after the reinstallation of the monitoring software the Probation Office was again notified of concerning activity on Wolfe’s computer. The search terms clearly referred to children and sexual activity. On May 25, 2018, the supervising Probation Officer conducted an unscheduled home visit and made contact with Wolfe and his mother. When confronted by the Probation Officer concerning the online activity, Wolfe stated that he didn’t think anything he had searched or viewed constituted pornography. The Probation Officer seized the computer, an unauthorized cellular telephone and numerous pages of handwritten notes (containing, among other things, lists of web sites).
A forensic examination of the computer conducted by the United States Secret Service revealed search terms indicative of child sexual exploitation as well as shadow copies of images depicting the sexual exploitation of children. The Secret Service prepared a report and provided it to the United States Probation Office. The United States Probation Officer submitted the information to the Court in support of an action to revoke Wolfe’s Supervised Release and Senior United States District Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., revoked his release on June 3, 2019. Wolfe’s conduct also led to the filing of the new charges for which he was convicted by a jury on January 15, 2020, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, before Chief United States District Judge Greg N. Stivers.
U.S. v. Jon Michael Helms
According to the Plea Agreement, a Detective with the Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigations engaged in an online undercover investigation concerning child sexual exploitation. The Detective entered a secret group on a social media platform while maintaining an Undercover Persona (UC). On July 20, 2018, the Detective received a message from an unknown party on the Messenger Application with the username: “heartbreaker1974,” who sent several images and videos of suspected Child Sex Abuse during the time the Detective observed the group chat.
On July 30,2018, “heartbreaker 1974” – later determined to be Jon Michael Helms — sent a direct message to the UC over the application. During the conversation, Helms stated he was a male in Madison, Indiana, and that he had been engaging his daughter in sexual abuse from 6 months of age until the present (claiming child was 10 at the time). He then provided two images of a female child purported to be his daughter along with a phone number. Helms and the Detective talked on the phone and continued communicating for several days. During that time, the Detective learned Helms’ identity as well as the fact that he was listed on the Indiana Sex Offender Registry (underlying conviction — 2014 in Jennings County, Indiana, for possession of child pornography).
Helms requested to meet with the Detective (who he believed was an 11-year-old child) to engage in sexual acts. Helms also stated he had previously engaged in sex with a two-year-old child. The two agreed to meet on August 4,2018, in Louisville, Kentucky. Law enforcement officials tracked Helms from Madison to Louisville. When they saw him approaching the agreed upon location, they stopped the car and arrested Helms, the only passenger in the vehicle. After being advised of his constitutional rights, Helms waived those rights and admitted that he had travelled to Louisville from his home in Indiana to meet a person he had communicated with over the messaging application. He also admitted that he had posted images and videos of child pornography to the app. Later review of his phone confirmed it had been used by Helms to communicate with the Detective.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jo E. Lawless. The Kentucky Office of Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigations led the investigation with significant assistance from the United States Secret Service.