Federal program targets online child predators
A 51-year-old Bradenton man was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on child pornography charges related to a years-long undercover investigation.
U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announced Tuesday that Robert Sciolino was ordered to pay $57,000 in restitution to victims, forfeit six of the electronic devices he used to commit crime and spend 10 years in prison.
“This sentence is the embodiment of unremitting efforts of detectives and agents at the local, federal and international level to prevent the exploitation and victimization of children,” said Special Agent Dan Ward, with the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force.
The investigation into Sciolino’s possession and receipt of child pornography began in 2014, according to court documents, when undercover New Zealand investigators downloaded multiple child pornography files from Sciolino’s residence. Authorities later received a search warrant and seized two computers and two flash drives.
About 350 images and 600 videos depicting child pornography were found on the devices, prosecutors said. Children as young as 3 years old were sexually abused in the files.
The biggest bust came in February 2016. Undercover FBI agents worked alongside the Bradenton Police Department to monitor a user who was downloading child pornography files from unsecured wireless networks while sitting in the parking lot of a grocery store.
Authorities responding to the scene around 9 p.m. on Feb. 1 found Sciolino “actively downloading child pornography from his car.” Investigators found more than 1,600 child pornography files on the devices he had with him, court documents say.
Sciolino pleaded guilty on March 22. The case was investigated by the Bradenton Police Department, the FBI and the New Zealand Police Department, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Diego F. Novaes and Lisa M. Thelwell.