SHERMAN, Texas – An Allen man was found guilty by a jury of federal child exploitation violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei today.
Clay Melton Denton, 56, was found guilty of distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography today by a jury following a five-day trial before U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant, III.
“Those that view and trade child pornography perpetuate a cycle of exploitation and abuse by providing a market for producers,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “The Eastern District of Texas will do whatever it takes to stamp out this terrible industry—and make no mistake, it is indeed an industry—doing so with the help of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners.”
“The sheer volume of devices and images recovered by investigators in this case is astounding. I commend the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force, the Garland and Plano Police Departments and the North Texas Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory for their diligence in processing evidence to best serve justice in this investigation,” said Dallas FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno. “With our partners, we are committed to ensuring that distributors of abusive content are held accountable so that we can protect our population’s most vulnerable members.”
“This important collaboration with our local area and Federal law enforcement partners continues to keep catching these criminals in an effort to keep our communities safe,” said Plano Police Chief Ed Drain. “We are very appreciative all those involved in this case.”
“I am proud of the work that our police department is doing, and cases like these showcase the importance and effectiveness of working together not only locally but federally,” said Garland Police Chief Jeff Bryan. “The safety of our communities is the top priority, and these are the types of folks we need off our streets.”
According to the court documents and testimony at trial, in January and March 2018, undercover officers with the Plano Police Department and the Garland Police Department received child pornography, via an online platform, that had been distributed to them by a computer user. The officers traced the online conduct to the Denton residence in Allen, Texas. Members of the FBI obtained a search warrant for the residence, which they served on April 25, 2018. The searching team discovered multiple digital devices in the residence, including server racks, network area storage devices, laptops, hard drives, cellular phones, and digital storage media. Agents testified that the entire second story of the house was filled with floor-to-ceiling book cases storing digital devices, manuals, and peripherals. Additional testimony revealed that forensic analysis of the seized devices took almost one year. During this forensic analysis, personnel discovered tens of thousands of images and videos of child pornography. Specifically, evidence demonstrated that a laptop belonging to Denton and located on one of his desks contained the same software used to distribute child pornography to the undercover officers. That software was also used to obtain child pornography, which was saved on a different portion of Denton’s computer. Evidence also revealed that child pornography was located on a 60+ terabyte storage device that Denton owned and possessed. A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Denton with federal violations on Sep. 11, 2019.
On June 11, 2021, the jury returned a guilty verdict on all counts of the indictment. Under federal statutes, Denton faces up to 20 years in federal prison. The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.
This case is 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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
This case was investigated by the Plano Police Department, Garland Police Department and the FBI Dallas Child Exploitation Task Force and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa Miller and Maureen Smith.