The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

April 2, 2014

Sex offender enters guilty plea in porn case

A registered sex offender in Vernon County pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet.

David L. Knowles, 55, of Nevada, pleaded guilty to a charge contained in an indictment handed up a year ago in U.S. District Court in Springfield. The U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri said in a news release that Knowles is a registered sex offender as the consequence of a 1997 conviction for sexual assault.

The defendant’s guilty plea amounts to an admission that he received and distributed child pornography via the Internet between May 31, 2012, and Jan. 3, 2013, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

An investigation by cyber crimes detectives with the Joplin Police Department and the FBI led to the federal indictment of Knowles. An officer conducting an undercover investigation online was able to trace the source of certain child pornography videos to a computer owned by Knowles.

The defendant faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison without parole for the conviction and could receive up to 40 years without parole and a fine up to $250,000. He also must forfeit to the government an iPad, a desktop computer, an iPhone and an external hard drive used in the commission of the offense.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled when a pre-sentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office is completed.

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