Feds charge Owensville man with producing child porn

By: 
Dave Marner
Managing editor

An Owensville man was charged Tuesday in a U.S. District Court criminal complaint with production of child pornography following a weekend warrant search of his apartment by investigators with Homeland Security and Owensville police.

Department of Homeland Security investigators took Michael S. Foster, 27, into custody without incident around 5:30 p.m. March 27 at his Owensville Estates apartment. Owensville police and the Missouri State Highway assisted with the arrest. Foster was transported to the Crawford County Jail in Steelville for processing on the complaint signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia L. Cohen.

The complaint alleges that between July 1, 2017, and March 24, 2018, Foster violated federal code 18:255 (a) by producing child pornography within a county located in Missouri’s Eastern District.

Det. Rob Green with the Owensville Police Department said Homeland Security investigators from St. Louis received a “cyber tip” about illegal child pornography being produced in the region. Green, who is a member of the Missouri Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) based out of St. Charles County, was contacted by his fellow task force members who shared what Homeland Security investigators had learned.

“It was a complete joint investigation,” said Green.

City Marshal Robert Rickerd, who was present when Foster was taken into custody, said the federal search warrant was executed Saturday afternoon into the evening hours.

“On March 24, a federal search warrant was executed on an Owensville residence which was spurred from the cyber tip,” said Rickerd in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “During the search by investigators, all of the suspect’s electronic media devices were seized. An on-site forensic search of a computer led to evidence being found that led to charges being filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Further analysis of the media devices will be conducted for further evidence. The suspect, Michael Foster, a  27-year-old Owensville resident, was found to be in possession of illegal images.”

Owensville Police Sgt. Scott Griffith said an affidavit which accompanied the complaint had been sealed by the court and would not be released until after Foster appeared before a federal judge.

Green said investigators were at the apartment complex on South Fourth Street from around noon on Saturday until about 10 p.m. which included approximately two hours of questioning of Foster.

“We received a cyber tip and it came back to an IP address in the Owensville area,” said Green. “We traced it back to that apartment and obtained the federal search warrant.”

Rickerd said Green represents Gasconade County on ICAC, a “task force which primarily investigates crimes against children and also provides investigative, forensic, prevention training and resources in an effort to fight online child exploitation.”

Green said there was “trading” of images. “It happened in another county,” said Green. Their investigation is continuing.

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