OAG’s Child Exploitation Unit Arrests
McCulloch County Man for Possession of
AUSTIN, TX – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that the Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) of his office arrested 57-year-old David Ray Gardner, of Brady, last week on two counts of Possession of Child Pornography, a third-degree felony. Gardner could face up to 10 years in prison per charge if convicted.
Following a CyberTipline report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children® (NCMEC), CEU investigators executed a search warrant at Gardner’s residence where digital storage devices were seized that will be examined by the attorney general’s Digital Forensics Unit.
During an interview, Gardner admitted to operating and storing child pornography on the account reported to NCMEC. Gardner was subsequently arrested and transported to the McCulloch County Jail.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office works to protect children by using the latest technology to track down some of the most profoundly evil predators online.
The CEU proactively seeks out and arrests predators who commit crimes against children using technology and online sources.
Attorney General Paxton urges all parents and teachers to become aware of the risks our children face on the internet and take steps to help ensure their children’s safety.
If you suspect someone of producing or downloading child pornography you can report it to NCMEC.
Gila County official charged in MN with Child Abuse shortly after he was rehired
A manager for Gila County’s health and emergency services agency is scheduled to stand trial early next year in Minnesota on charges of abusing his two children, according to court documents.
Joshua Beck, 40, is charged with two counts of assault and two counts of endangering a child, according to court records in Cook County, Minnesota. His trial is scheduled to start on Jan. 29.
Beck was the Cook County Health and Humans Services director in Minnesota before he resigned on July 21. His charges were filed in Minnesota about a week later.
Before moving to Minnesota, Beck had worked as manager of Gila County’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness, a program within the department, in Globe.
Gila County hired him back after he left Minnesota, for the same position, a role that helps oversee the county’s 53,000 residents’ safety in event of a public health emergency.
Gila County Manager James Menlove said he was aware of Beck’s pending criminal court case. He said Beck had applied for the job and was hired before the charges were filed.
“Gila County takes the charges against Beck very seriously, but as is the case with anyone in the criminal justice system who has yet to be convicted, Beck is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty,” according to an emailed statement. “Gila County remains steadfastly committed to the safety of its employees and the residents it serves.”
Beck was rehired on July 18, before the charges were filed on Aug. 1 in Cook County, the statement says. He had two previous stints with the county from November 2012 to May 2013 and again from March 2014 to September 2016.
His current annual salary in Gila County is $62,042.
‘We believe this is a witch hunt’
Through his lawyers, Beck denied the allegations. He said the false claims of abuse are at the center of a custody dispute involving his stepson and stepdaughter and other family members.
“He adamantly disputes the allegations and is taking the steps to defend himself in court,” said Tyson Smith, a lawyer for Beck, in a phone interview.
Christa Jacqueline Groshek, another Minnesota lawyer for Beck, said in a phone interview Beck is innocent and the children’s grandmother has been seeking custody.
Groshek said Beck has three biological children with his wife and none of them have alleged they’ve been abused. She added that Beck has worked in public health policy for a long time and he cares for families and children “so he wouldn’t hurt children.”
“We feel like he’s been wrongfully accused,” she said. “We believe this is a witch hunt that started with the maternal grandmother.”
Groshek made these arguments on Monday to a judge in Cook County at a hearing seeking to dismiss the prosecutor’s evidence. She said she expects the judge to make a decision whether to dismiss the charges or not in the next couple of weeks.
Allegations of abuse
According to a probable-cause statement, the 10-year-old girl told a staff member at First Witness, a child well-being advocacy organization in Minnesota, Beck had abused her since before moving from Arizona.
“She indicated that the defendant calls her names, pulls her hair, throws objects at her, forcibly wakes her up, and takes away her cochlear implants so she cannot hear,” the complaint said.
In one instance, the girl told the staff member Beck grabbed her neck and choked her until she couldn’t breathe, the court document says. The girl said the choking gave her a bruise and affected her sense of smell, the document says.
In another instance, she said Beck pulled her hair, slapped and threw toys at her face, the document says.
Both children also told the staff member, according to the court document, that while they lived in Arizona, Beck threw them both to the ground. The boy’s head hit some rocks and his head began to bleed and one of the girl’s ankles was injured, the document says.
The children said they didn’t receive medical attention for their injuries and the girl couldn’t walk on the ankle for a few days, the probable cause statement says.
The boy also said Beck “likes to cause him pain,” the court document states.
Both children said Beck encourages the three younger children to mistreat them, too, by hurting them physically or calling them derogatory names, according to the court document.
Sini Mathews Arrested On
Child Endangerment Charge
Dallas, TX – The mother of a North Texas toddler whose body was recovered last month from a drainage culvert weeks after she was reported missing was arrested Thursday on a charge of child endangerment.
Police said she and her husband left their 3-year-old adopted child, Sherin Mathews, home alone while they went to dinner just hours before they claimed she had disappeared.
Sini Ann Mathews, who has maintained her innocence in the death of Sherin, surrendered to Richardson police Thursday and is being held on $250,000 bond on the state jail felony charge.
She was arraigned Friday morning and did not respond to reporters questions when she was transferred to the Dallas County Jail Friday afternoon.
In a statement Thursday, Richardson police said detectives learned Sini Mathews, 35, and Wesley Mathews took their 3-year-old biological daughter to dinner and left Sherin alone at home, placing her in “imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.”
“The time that they left, she was not under the care of any other adult or of any other person, she was left home alone by herself and it’s for that reason that you see this particular charge,” said Kevin Perlich, with the Richardson Police Department. “It’s not necessarily related to her death, it’s related to her care that she was being given while she was in that home.”
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, detectives used cell phone records to show Wesley and Sini went to a North Garland restaurant on the evening of Oct. 6. The theory is supported by a receipt obtained by police that showed the couple purchased only one child’s meal in addition to their individual meals as well as the testimony of a waiter who said only one child was present at the table.
During an interview with detectives, Wesley Mathews, 37, admitted to leaving Sherin home alone after growing frustrated she wouldn’t drink her milk and said they returned home about 90 minutes later and found her where they left her, in the kitchen.
Both Sini and Wesley told police the child was alive when they returned home from dinner, though police have not confirmed that information.
Hours later, on the morning of Oct. 7, Wesley Mathews called police and reported Sherin missing. In a story he would later change, Wesley originally told police Sherin disappeared overnight after he ordered her to stand outside at about 3 a.m. for not drinking her milk. When he returned, Wesley said she had disappeared and that her location was unknown.
Weeks later, Wesley Mathews changed his story and said he “physically assisted” her in drinking her milk and that she choked and died at the home. He said he then moved the girl’s body and later called police to report her missing.
The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office is still working to determine what killed Sherin Mathews.
Sini Mathews said she was sleeping when Sherin disappeared and was unaware of what took place overnight between the child and her father.
Meanwhile, Wesley Mathews remains jailed on a charge of felony injury to a child and is being held on a $1 million bond.
Sini Mathews’ attorney has maintained throughout the investigation she had nothing to do with her daughter’s death and that she was distraught during her daughter’s disappearance.
NBC 5 confirmed Friday that at some point in the last month Sini Mathews was terminated from her job at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas where she worked as a case manager.
On Thursday, her attorney Mitchell Nolte thanked Richardson police for allowing his client to surrender.
“We learned this morning that the Richardson Police Department had obtained an arrest warrant for Sini Mathews for the offense of Abandoning/Endangering a Child. The police were professional and courteous and allowed us to bring Mrs. Mathews to the Police Department and surrender herself into custody,” Nolte said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Wesley Mathews’ attorney, David Kleckner, said his client loves his children and wife and that he’s a good family man who wants custody of their surviving daughter to be returned to her mother.
Sini Mathews was in court as recently as Monday asking for custody of the couple’s child to be returned to her, but that hearing was rescheduled 1 p.m. Nov. 29.
The couple’s surviving child has been in foster care since shortly after her sister’s disappearance. The child was expected to be placed in the care of family in the Houston area following Monday’s hearing.
22 men indicted as part of human trafficking operation in Brentwood
BRENTWOOD, TN – At least 22 men have been indicted as part of an undercover human trafficking operation in Brentwood.
As part of the sting in early October, two female agents posed as prostitutes on Backpage.com and offered sex for purchase.
During the text message exchanges with dozens and dozens of would-be customers, the agents identified themselves as minors.
According to the TBI, within a three-day period, 22 men showed up for arranged meetings, showing intentions of purchasing sex with a child.
The men were from all different backgrounds. The suspects include a computer programmer, an automotive engineer, a chef and a construction worker.
Eleven of the 22 men who were indicted are still in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Now: @TBInvestigation presser on a human trafficking investigation in Brentwood. pic.twitter.com/FUaMJVM9wI
— Kim St. Onge (@KimWSMV) November 9, 2017
Authorities have arrested nine of the suspects in Williamson County:
NOT IN MY WORLD!!!! will not publish these names, if you wish to see them, you will find them here.
The TBI also sent undercover male agents to respond to advertisements on Backpage.com to try to find potential victims of human trafficking. Two women responded to the ads but declined to receive services from the TBI’s partner nonprofit agency.
The TBI, the Brentwood Police Department, Homeland Security and the office of 21st District Attorney General Kim Helper all assisted in the investigation.
“This is, without doubt, a demand-driven crime, involving men from all kinds of backgrounds,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “We need more men to stand up and talk honestly about how we got here as a culture and what we need to do to fix it. Unless we’re willing to hold one other accountable, we will continue to see too many people victimized by this kind of crime, with no one to blame but ourselves.”
If you would like to help the victims of sex trafficking in Tennessee, visit ithastostop.com.
AG Paxton’s Criminal Investigations
Division Reaches New Milestones
AUSTIN, TX – Attorney General Ken Paxton congratulates the Criminal Investigations Division of his office for reaching two huge milestones since its inception in 2003.
On September 27, the division marked its 10,000th arrest with the capture of Jordan Adam Lafleur, who was wanted for aggravated sexual assault of a child. Twenty-seven of the 10,000 arrests involved the capture of outlaws on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s 10 Most Wanted list.
On October 3, investigators from the division’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit made their 9,000th arrest, apprehending Armando Ramos, a convicted child predator wanted for violating parole.
“These monumental milestones are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our Criminal Investigations Division’s brave law enforcement officers, who don’t always get the public recognition they so richly deserve,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Their bravery, valor and strength remind us of the dangers many of them face every day – dangers they confront without hesitation. I am proud of the job they do to keep Texas stronger, safer and just.”
The Fugitive Apprehension Unit’s mission is to locate and arrest convicted child sex offenders who violate conditions of their parole and to arrest sex offenders who fail to comply with the state’s mandated sex offender registration requirements. It also assists the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in locating missing and endangered runaways.