Man accused of distributing child pornography using Facebook Messenger
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FARMINGTON — A San Juan County man is accused of distribution and possession of child pornography after a social media company reported the man has been sending child pornography to another user.
John Newton, 38, is accused of a third-degree felony count of distribution of visual medium of sexual exploitation of children and a fourth-degree felony count of possession of visual medium of sexual exploitation of children, according to court records.
Newton did not have legal representation in the case on Oct. 23.
The arrest warrant affidavit describes how the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on July 20 were notified by Facebook that a user had been using Facebook Messenger to send images of child pornography.
The alleged incident happened on July 19 around 4:29 p.m.
The affidavit listed information, including the email address and IP address for the account which sent the image.
Facebook reported the company did view the image and it met the standards to be considered child pornography.
The suspect's IP address was tracked to an internet service provider in New Mexico, which assigned the address to an account in the area of Bloomfield.
The information was forwarded to the New Mexico Attorney General's Office.
An agent with the AG's office submitted a grand jury subpoena to the ISP for subscriber information, returning with an address on County Road 5008 southwest of Bloomfield.
Newton was contacted by the San Juan County Sheriff's Office during a traffic stop on Oct. 17 and was arrested on an unrelated warrant for probation violation.
Permission was given to examine two cell phones found in the vehicle. Newton's phone was collected as evidence.
Newton denied any knowledge of the illegal images and denied possessing them during an interview with the Sheriff's Office.
The defendant was unable to explain how the image was transmitted using his Facebook Messenger account on his home internet connection, according to court documents.
The contents of Newton's phone were extracted and a thumbnail of an image of child pornography that was transmitted via Facebook Messenger was found on the phone.
Newton is being held without bond at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center, according to jail records.
His preliminary hearing on the case is set for the morning of Oct. 31 in Aztec Magistrate Court.
Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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