Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

March 21, 2014

Four Pa. men arrested on unrelated child pornography charges; 2013 arrest leads to state prison sentence for York County man

HARRISBURG - Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today announced the arrest of four Pennsylvania men on unrelated charges as part of ongoing efforts to target the online sharing, downloading and distribution of child pornography.

 The defendants are identified as:

  • Christopher Welshans, 36, 53 4th St., Atlasburg, Washington County;
  • Ian Michael Steele, 26, 2700 Murray Ave., Bensalem, Bucks County;
  • Anthony Thomas, 47, 614 East Roberts St., Norristown, Montgomery County; and
  • Joseph Lipanot, 29, 305 Vincennes Ave., Apt. 403, Oakdale, Allegheny County.

Christopher Welshans

 
Christopher Welshans

According to the criminal complaint, agents conducting an online investigation into the distribution of child pornography identified an IP address making files of children, under the age of 18, engaged in graphic sexual acts and poses, available for download. The computer was later identified as belonging to Welshans.
 
Agents and local police executed a search of Welshans' Atlasburg residence and seized multiple computers. The items were previewed by computer forensics agents and found to contain suspected child pornography.
 
Welshans is charged with distribution of child pornography, possession of child pornography and criminal use of a communication facility. He was taken into custody on March 21, 2014 and is awaiting a preliminary arraignment.
 
Attorney General Kane thanked the Smith Township Police Department, the Hanover Township Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police for their assistance with the investigation.
 
The case will be prosecuted in Washington County by Deputy Attorney General Anthony Marmo of the Attorney General's Child Predator Section.

Ian Steele
The charges state that agents conducting an investigation into the sharing of child pornography identified an IP address making files of prepubescent children, engaged in graphic sexual acts and poses, available for download. The computer's IP address was later identified as belonging to Steele's Bensalem residence.

 
Ian Steele

On March 19, 2014 agents executed a search warrant at the residence and seized a computer, which will be further analyzed by the Attorney General's Computer Forensics Unit as part of an ongoing investigation.

Steele is charged with four counts of possession of child pornography, two counts of distribution of child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.
He was taken into custody following the execution of the search warrant and released on $100,000 unsecured bail. A preliminarily hearing is scheduled for March 26, 2014.

The case will be prosecuted in Bucks County by Deputy Attorney General Rebecca Elo of the Attorney General's Child Predator Section.

Attorney General Kane thanked the Bensalem Police Department for their assistance with the investigation.

Anthony Thomas

According to the criminal complaint, agents conducting an online investigation into the distribution of child pornography identified an IP address making files of prepubescent children, engaged in graphic sexual acts and poses, available for download. The computer's IP address was later identified as belonging to Thomas.

 
Anthony Thomas

Agents executed a search of Thomas' Norristown residence and seized a computer and a hard drive. The items were previewed by computer forensics agents and found to contain at least 31 videos of suspected child pornography.

Thomas is charged with 20 counts of possession of child pornography, one count of distribution of child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. He was taken into custody on March 19, 2014 and placed in the Montgomery County Prison in lieu of $5,000 10% cash bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 1, 2014.

The case will be prosecuted in Montgomery County by Deputy Attorney General Rebecca Elo of the Attorney General's Child Predator Section.

Attorney General Kane thanked the Norristown Police Department for their assistance with the investigation.

Joseph Lipanot

According to the criminal complaint, agents identified a computer on a peer-to-peer network sharing several media files believed to depict child pornography. The computer's IP address was later identified as belonging to an Oakdale apartment.

 
Joseph Lipanot

Agents and local police seized drugs, a computer and other media storage devices during the execution of search warrants at Lipanot's apartment. A preliminary review by computer forensics experts of the items seized revealed more than 500 video files and 200 photographs allegedly containing child pornography.

Lipanot is charged with 12 counts of possession of child pornography, seven counts of distribution of child pornography, one count of criminal use of a communication facility, one count of possession of marijuana and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

He was taken into custody on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, preliminarily arraigned in Allegheny County night court and released on his own recognizance.  A bond hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m., Friday, March 21, 2014 and a preliminary hearing is scheduled at 10 a.m. on March 31 before Oakdale Magisterial District Judge Anthony Savekis.

Attorney General Kane thanked the Oakdale Police Department for their assistance with the investigation. The case will be prosecuted in Allegheny County by Deputy Attorney General Anthony Marmo of the Attorney General's Child Predator Section.

State Prison Sentence for York County Man

In addition to the three defendants arrested this week, the Attorney General's Child Predator Section successfully prosecuted a York County man, who was arrested in February 2013 after traveling to a predetermined meeting location in Lancaster County to meet whom he believed was a 14-year-old girl.

Judge Donald Totaro sentenced Joshua Martin, 33, 124 Elizabeth Court, Wrightsville, York County to four to 10 years in a State Correctional Institution. Martin was prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Christopher Jones of the Attorney General's Child Predator Section.

Reporting Internet Predators

Suspected Internet predators can be reported to the Attorney General's Child Predator Section by calling the Child Predator Hotline at 1-800-385-1044. Internet safety tips are available on the "Operation Safe Surf" section of www.attorneygeneral.gov. Organizations interested in materials, speakers or presentations should contact the Attorney General's Education and Outreach Unit at 1-800-525-7642 or via email at education@attorneygeneral.gov

(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)

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