A black LG cellphone — sitting on his desk next to the computer — was the device he’d been using to coax a 14-year-old victim into sending him nude photos, he told FBI agents.
But that was far from James W. O’Brien’s only phone.
The 62-year-old New York state sex offender had between 20 and 30 cellphones stowed away in his Binghamton, New York, home, which the FBI discovered when agents executed a search warrant there May 31, according to an FBI criminal complaint.
Asked why he had so many phones, O’Brien offered agents a straightforward answer: He said he “changed his cellphone every few months to cover his tracks,” knowing that trying to lure underage girls into sending him nude pictures was illegal, the complaint said.
Federal prosecutors charged O’Brien Thursday with felony transport and possession of child porn charges after the search of his home, the Binghamton Press reports. O’Brien is being held at the Broome County jail.
During a court appearance, O’Brien waived his right to have a detention hearing, the newspaper reports.
The search of O’Brien’s home came after Philadelphia police found the 14-year-old Pennsylvania victim in April, the FBI said. The girl had been using mobile apps like ICQ and Amino to communicate with O’Brien — and to send naked photos of herself to him, the FBI said.
The predator targeting the teen girl had given her two phone numbers, one of which was linked to O’Brien, the complaint said.
But even before the FBI realized O’Brien was soliciting nude photos from the 14-year-old, authorities were investigating him. That’s because in June 2017, Google noticed that a photo depicting child porn had been uploaded, and it alerted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The email and IP address that had been used to upload the photo were connected to O’Brien, the complaint said.
The next month, O’Brien again uploaded the same child porn photo using the same email and IP addresses, and then uploaded a new photo of child porn, the FBI said.
When authorities ran his name through the New York state sex offender registry, they discovered O’Brien was a level-one sex offender. He had been convicted in 2008 of “possessing a sexual performance of a child less than 16 years of age,” the complaint said.
After the search of his home, O’Brien agreed to be interviewed by FBI agents, according to the complaint. At that point he admitted to having about 100 pictures of nude, 13- to 14-year-old females in his possession, the complaint said. He also confessed to coaxing the Philadelphia girl into sending him pictures, and told agents which phone he had used to communicate with her, according to the complaint.
Authorities found “several hundred images” of child porn on that phone — including sexually explicit photos of children as young as 4, 5 and 8, the complaint said.