Former teacher’s assistant from West L.A. sentenced for trading in ‘sadistic’ child pornography images

LOS ANGELES >> A judge sentenced a West Los Angeles man who formerly worked as a teacher’s assistant to eight years in federal prison for distributing “sadistic” child pornography images online, authorities said.
Steven Petlak, 53, pleaded guilty to a single count of distribution of child pornography in July in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
“In court filings, Petlak admitted that he made an effort to seek out the worst types of child pornography he could find — in Petlak’s words, “the really dark stuff,” Mrozek said in a written statement.
Images traded via a peer-to-peer file-sharing system included pornographic pictures of children under 15 years old, “including child images deemed to be ‘sadistic’ under the federal sentencing rules,” Mrozek said.
While out of custody and awaiting trial, “Petlak was caught by a law enforcement officer looking at what appeared to be graphic images of a juvenile female,” Mrozek added.
Officials said Petlak had previously worked as a teachers’ assistant, however DOJ officials did not disclose what school or schools he has worked for.
Petlak received his sentence from U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald.
“Predators who seek out child pornography online threaten the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable in our real-world community. This defendant’s conduct exemplifies a horrific and dark part of our society, and the sentence today reflects the harm caused by defendants who trade in these heinous materials, ” U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen Decker said.
Upon his release from federal prison, Petlak will be required to register as a sex offender and stay away from places where children are present.

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Sierra Madre man accused of possessing child pornography

SIERRA MADRE >> Police on Thursday announced the arrest of a Sierra Madre man accused of possessing child pornography.
Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Juvenile Division, Internet Crimes Against Children Unit arrested Victor Alexander Randall, 38, about 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to Sierra Madre police and Los Angeles County booking records.
“Investigators initiated the investigation after receiving reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” Sierra Madre police Sgt. Joe Ortiz said in a written statement.
After being booked at the LAPS’s 77th Street Station jail, Randal was released from custody the same day he was arrested after posting $20,000 bail, records show.
Further details regarding the allegations against Randall were not available Thursday.
He’s scheduled to appear for an arraignment hearing on Oct. 14 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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San Marino man accused of possession of child pornography

SAN MARINO — A San Marino man already convicted of using a hidden camera to take photos up the skirts of unsuspecting women was behind bars again Wednesday, accused of possessing images of child pornography.
Police arrested Justin Kerong Chen, 18, Tuesday while serving a search warrant at his home, San Marino police officials said in a written statement.
He remained jailed Wednesday at the Alhambra Police Department’s jail in lieu of $20,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Thursday in Alhambra Superior Court, according to county booking records.
San Marino police began investigating Chen in connection with child pornography after information was developed while investigating him for different crimes earlier this year, San Marino police Detective Susana Franco said.
He was arrested in March after police found him in possession of burglary tools, as well as a “covert camera” which he had been using to take surreptitious photographs up women’s skirts in public, the detective said.
“Follow-up investigation led detectives to Chen’s residence, where, with the assistance of the South Pasadena Police Department, a search warrant was executed without incident,” San Marino police officials said in a written statement.
Chen was convicted of possession of burglary tools and electronic peeping with a camera and sentenced to three years of summary probation in June, Franco said.
As detectives investigated Chen and built a case against him for the electronic peeping case, they discovered that he had images of child pornography on his computer, the detective said.
They obtained a search warrant from a judge and arrived at Chen’s home shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday in search of additional images, Franco said.
“Several” images were recovered from Chen’s computer and other electronic media involving “younger” children, she added. Investigators had no information to indicate Chen was involved in the creation of any of the images.
Chen was booked on suspicion of possession of child pornography.
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