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United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania

10/12/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/13/2021 10:09

Suburban Pittsburgh Man Sentenced to 7+ Years in Prison for Violating Child Sexual Exploitation Laws

PITTSBURGH - A suburban Pittsburgh resident has been sentenced in federal court to 90 months' imprisonment on his conviction of federal child exploitation laws, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.

United States District Judge Robert J. Colville imposed the sentence on Anthony Bellisario, 58, formerly of Robinson Township, PA.

According to information presented to the court, as a result of a large-scale, international investigation into the darknet site "Welcome 2 Video", which offered child sexual exploitation images and videos for sale using the cryptocurrency bitcoin, Bellisario was identified as a user of this Website. Namely, from January 21, 2017 through February 27, 2018, Bellisario downloaded approximately 1,673 files of child sexual abuse material (commonly referred to as child pornography) and uploaded approximately six files to the Website and in return received credits to obtain "free" videos of child sexual abuse material.

The Court was further advised that on March 27, 2018, during the execution of a federal search warrant at Bellisario's residence, law enforcement seized two laptops owned by Bellisario. On these laptops, law enforcement found 1,000 unique videos and 443 unique images of child sexual abuse material; as well as 769 unique videos and 9,340 unique images of child erotica.

Bellisario used a Virtualized Private Network (VPN) in an effort to mask his identity online because he "[knew] what [he was] doing was illegal. That way people can't find you for doing things that are illegal." The Court was further informed that Bellisario admitted to law enforcement that he had been looking at child sexual abuse material for the last 15 years.

Judge Colville remanded Bellisario into custody, denying Bellisario's request to self-report to the Bureau of Prisons on a later date.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc

Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca L. Silinski prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

Acting United States Attorney Kaufman commended the Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations, with the assistance of the North Strabane Police Department, Robinson Township Police Department and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Bellisario.