For Immediate Release
Kalamazoo Security Company Owner Sentenced to 27 Years for Child Pornography and Illegal Firearms
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – Former security company owner Michael Downey, 45, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, was sentenced today to 27 years in federal prison for child pornography and illegal firearm charges, announced U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. Downey received 18 years for the child pornography count and 9 years for the firearm count, which will be served consecutively. Downey pled guilty in March 2015 to attempting to receive child pornography over the internet through live streaming videos and illegally possessing an unregistered short-barreled rifle. After the 27-year term of imprisonment, Downey will serve 10 years on supervised release and be required to register as a sex offender wherever he works or lives.
Downey admitted engaging in online chats with people overseas to solicit children as young as eight years old for live sex shows. Homeland Security Investigations identified Downey after a couple in the Philippines was arrested for selling live sex shows of children to people online. Philippine authorities raided the couple’s home and rescued two children who were being used for child pornography. A search warrant on the couple’s email revealed that Downey was corresponding with them and that they were sending him child pornography by email. A search warrant on Downey’s email discovered chats between him and numerous other people between February 2012 and August 2013 where he offered to pay to see live videos of people sexually abusing children.
When Homeland Security Investigations conducted a search warrant on Downey’s residence in Kalamazoo, Michigan, they found unregistered and illegal firearms. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) seized the firearms, resulting in three charges for possession of the unregistered short-barreled rifle and an unregistered silencer with no serial markings. Downey was released on bond on conditions including no computers and no firearms. While Downey was on bond, ATF discovered additional firearms hidden in his home after he offered to sell one of them to a friend, and Downey’s bond was revoked.
“The participation of the defendant in these chatroom conversations in which he was seeking youngsters to perform some sexual conduct and paying for it is the basest form of abuse,” said U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney in announcing the sentence. “Individuals like Mr. Downy create the market for this filth,” he continued, and “the word needs to get out” about the seriousness with which Congress and the courts view these “abhorrent” crimes.
“The internet has dramatically increased the reach of child predators, who believe they are operating anonymously,” stated U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. “However, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal investigative partners will continue working to expose and prosecute these perpetrators and rescue children.”
“This case is another disturbing example of how some child predators believe they can evade detection and prosecution by sexually exploiting minors on the internet overseas,” said Marlon V. Miller, special agent in charge of Homeland Security (HSI) Detroit. “Child predators are mistaken if they believe they can hide behind a computer screen and keyboard to commit sex crimes against children. HSI has highly trained, computer savvy special agents with the expertise and technology to find them and bring them to justice.”
“ATF has always been very active within our statutory jurisdiction to follow the gun, which, in this case, led to a heinous investigation involving crimes again children,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge S. Robin Shoemaker. “Crimes such as this against our children cannot and will not be tolerated.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tessa K. Hessmiller prosecuted this case as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. The U.S. Attorney’s Office; county prosecutor’s offices; and federal, state, and local law enforcement are working closely together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children. Individuals with information or concerns about possible child exploitation should contact local law enforcement. For more information about Project Safe Childhood in West Michigan, visit: http://www.justice.gov/usao/miw/programs/psc.html.