FBI takes custody of accused child pornographer
Thomas Joel Wagner was transferred to Federal Custody Thursday morning after serving more than four months in the Franklin County Jail on child exploitation charges.
He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Lee in Chattanooga Thursday to be arraigned. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James T. Brooks.
Suspected child pornographer Thomas Wagner is shown being taken into federal custody Thursday and transported to Chattanooga where he appeared before a federal magistrate for arraignment. Wagner faces a minimum of 15 years on charges of exploitation of a minor, aggravated exploitation of a minor and especially aggravated exploitation of a minor. Pictured, from left, are FBI Special Agent Richard Poff, Wagner and Cowan Police Assistant Chief Bruce Smith.
Wagner is facing a minimum sentence of 15 years on charges of exploitation of a minor, aggravated exploitation of a minor and especially aggravated exploitation of a minor. He is being held without bond.
The well-known Cowan resident was arrested on Aug. 22 following the execution of a search warrant at his residence that resulted in the discovery of large quantities of suspected child pornography.
A search warrant was obtained after law enforcement offi cials received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in reference suspected to child pornography being uploaded from a computer within Wagner’s residence.
He allegedly posted a photo of nude children ranging in age from 8 to 11 on a social networking and photo sharing website called Pinterest under the username johnitguy.
The photo was allegedly posted on July 23 and was identified by the Pinterest legal department, authorities said. The department identified the internet provider address of the poster and then alerted the National Center for Missing and Exploited children.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children forwarded the information to the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force. The task force then contacted the Cowan Police Department, at which time a joint investigation between Cowan and the Winchester Internet Crimes Against Children unit ensued.
The search warrant was drawn up, signed and executed at Wagner’s residence, where a large number of items were seized. According to members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, this is one of the largest child porn cases ever to be worked in Franklin County.
In a previous interview, Cowan Police Chief Allen Edwards summed up what had been found and seized.
“There were literally about a truckload of items seized from inside the residence,” Chief Edwards said. “Some of the items seized included: pictures, home videos, magazines, books, phones, computers, thumb drives and hard drives.”
Officials say the investigation is ongoing at this time, and it is still too early in the investigation to speculate as to where the evidence might lead or if other charges will be filed in the case.