Member Of Former TZL Child Porn Website Sentenced

Seth Piccolo (44), from Grand Rapids, was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in The Love Zone (TLZ), a former child porn website on the dark web. He pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography, possession and access with intent to view child pornography.

Piccolo was a member of TLZ and had to upload images of his own child pornography material to remain a member, according to court documents. This was a requirement to avoid undercover federal agents registering to the dark net site. The Australia-based website had been taken down in a joint action by the FBI and Australian investigators in December 2014.

According to law enforcement authorities, Piccolo tried to cover his actions using encryption and evidence-destroying software on his home computer. U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles Jr said in statement:

“The dark web is no sanctuary for criminal activity. Law enforcement in the Western District of Michigan is committed to tracking down criminals who try to use technology to evade detection of their crimes, including child exploitation offenses.”

Matthew Borgula, defending Piccolo, said his client was involved with The Love Zone child porn site for six months and only uploaded images to TLZ to comply with the rules. He added that the forensic examination of Piccolo’s computer did not show any child pornography material, although, it showed file paths between the computer and The Love Zone website.

“Unlike defendants that collect child pornography and then share it with others through file-sharing software, Mr. Piccolo uploaded images onto the TLZ website as directed for the sole purpose of gaining access to view pornography,” Borgula wrote.

U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell ordered Piccolo to spend 10 years on supervised release after his prison sentence ends.

Piccolo, who has no previous criminal record, said in a letter to the judge that he felt unstable and used pornography to “shock himself out of the anxiety he constantly felt.” The 44-year-old man also said he wanted to “live for Christ but followed his own selfish path to ruin.” His letter goes by:

“When I first encountered child pornography I was disgusted by it. What I took in was so abhorrent I knew right away I should get away fast, but I couldn’t. It shocked me that this existed and I was seeing it. The shock caused adrenaline and the adrenaline rush was exciting. This is what I had been chasing after my whole life. … I sought out anything that was an aberration and might shock me by its very existence. Of course, I put them [his family] at immeasurably greater risk by continuing with the behavior, but that irony was lost to me then. I only want to illustrate the difficult position requiring reasonable, difficult, adult decisions a person must make when the mind is compromised by a bewildering hunger for more. To my shame, I chose to ignore the problem.”

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