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Online predator admits to child porn charge involving 10-year-old Cheektowaga girl

A Pennsylvania man admitted he coerced a 10-year-old Cheektowaga girl into sharing sexually graphic videos of herself online, U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced on Friday.

Thomas A. Gillespie, 44, of East Brady, Pa., pleaded guilty Friday to production of child pornography before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford.

The charge carries a penalty of 15 to 30 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000.

Gillespie used the screen name "harddaddy" and told the girl he was 16 during their online relationship, court documents stated.

The exchange of instant messages on Vine.com occurred between July 2014 and Aug. 7, 2014, said Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott S. Allen Jr. and Russell T. Ippolito Jr., who handled the case.

The child told authorities she sent Gillespie one video of herself because she was afraid he would harm her if she did not. Gillespie's online account showed nude photos of the 10-year-old and other young girls, court documents stated.

Federal agents executed a search warrant in November 2014 at Gillespie's apartment in East Brady and recovered Gillespie’s computer. A forensic examination discovered more than 100 images of suspected child pornography including one nude photograph of the 10-year-old, court documents indicated.

Detective Michael Hockwater of the Cheektowaga Police Department, who is assigned to the Child Exploitation Task Force was the lead investigator in this 2 1/2-year effort, said Cheektowaga Assistant Police Chief James Speyer.

"He is to be commended for his hard work in identifying and arresting this predator of very young innocent girls," said Speyer.

Sentencing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. July 12 before Judge Wolford.

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