Matt J. Whitworth, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Jasper, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to possessing and distributing child pornography over the Internet.
Donald Lee Zaerr, 58, of Jasper, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England this morning to the charges contained in a Nov. 23, 2009, federal indictment.
Zaerr admitted that he distributed at least four images of child pornography over the Internet on Oct. 7, 2009. Zaerr also admitted that he was in possession of child pornography on Nov. 5, 2009.
Federal agents and members of the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force executed a state search warrant at Zaerr’s residence on Nov. 5, 2009. Officers discovered images of child pornography on Zaerr’s computer, which he had posted on the Internet using file-sharing software.
Authorities say they took a dozen computers, four thumb drives, 28 computer disks and two notebooks from fifty eight year-old Donald Zaerr's Jasper home that had at least ten thousand images of kids as young as 1 year-old being sexually molested.
According to court documents, Joplin cyber crimes Detective Chip Root found massive files of kiddie porn on the Internet and traced the IP address back to Zaerr's residence. The web address that those images were found at was issued to Zaerr's deceased father.
By pleading guilty today, Zaerr also agreed to forfeit to the government 12 computers, four thumb drives and 28 CDR disks, all of which were used to commit the offenses.
Under federal statutes, Zaerr is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000.
A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.