A Jamaica man on June 5 was sentenced to one to three years in prison for possessing child sex abuse photos and videos on his personal computer between May 2021 and November 2022 traced through transactions he made using cryptocurrency, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Andre Hyman, 29, of 112th Avenue, pleaded guilty last month to possessing a sexual performance by a child before Queens Supreme Court Justice Jerry Iannece.
According to the charges, Hyman’s activities were initially discovered as part of a larger, international investigation into the proliferation of online child sex abuse materials. Law enforcement partners at the Manhattan DA’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau were alerted to several websites selling child sex abuse material using Bitcoin addresses. One website in particular advertises access to criminal content in exchange for payment via cryptocurrency.
Katz said that during the course of the probe, investigators tracked the movement of funds from the website to determine the buyers of the illicit images and videos, pointing them to transactions made via Square, Inc., a mobile payment company. Subpoenaed records from Square, Inc., indicated Hyman’s name and address as the buyer of sexually explicit materials involving prepubescent girls.
Prosecutors from the Queens DA’s Major Economic Crimes Bureau launched a further investigation into Hyman’s bank accounts, enhancing the case and securing a search warrant for his residence. The search — conducted by members of the Queens DA Detective Bureau, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and another federal agency — resulted in the recovery of numerous images and videos of child sex abuse material, including an image of an approximately 4-year-old girl being subjected to a sexual act, according to the charges.
The search further resulted in the recovery of five fraudulent checks and blank check stock paper. Upon his arrest, Hyman allegedly confessed to intentionally accessing sites offering child sex abuse materials and attempting to manufacture fraudulent checks for business purposes.
“To those trying to hide their sexual exploitation of children behind a cover of cryptocurrency: We will track you down. We will use every tool available, as we did in this case, and we will find you,” Katz said. “This was a genuine team effort and I am grateful for the work done on this case by District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General. Thank you for your commitment to protecting our most vulnerable.”
Justice Iannece sentenced Hyman to an indeterminate sentence of one to three years in prison. As part of the plea, Hyman permanently surrendered eight electronic devices – three cell phones, two laptops and three flash drives — and will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release.