ANGOLA — An Angola man was arraigned Thursday on 15 felony counts of possession of child pornography.
Michael A. Leister, 31, was arrested on Wednesday morning following an interview with Detective Sgt. Michael Wood of the Angola Police Department.
Leister is facing 10 Level 4 felony counts of child exploitation and five Level 5 felony counts of child exploitation. A Level 4 felony carries a prison term between 2-12 years and a Level 5 felony is punishable by 1-6 years in prison. Both levels carry possible fines of up to $10,000.
In an interview with Wood, Leister admitted to having possessed numerous videos that depicted minors performing various sex acts with adults or minors in states of undress. The Level 4 felony counts were because the children depicted in the videos were younger than 12. The other five videos depicted minors younger than 18.
The case unfolded when Wood received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that two local internet protocol addresses were being used for the transmission of child pornography. The transmissions were alleged to have taken place between August and September, 2021, with most having occurred in early September, court records said.
Using subpoenas and skills developed with his association with the Internet Crimes Against Children unit, Wood was able to track down the two IP addresses to a residence in Angola, where Leister lived, and another address at a manufacturing facility in Fremont where Leister was employed, court records said.
Leister allegedly used a free instant messaging application called Kik that allows users to upload materials anonymously. It is geared toward teens, Wood said in his report.
Wood was able to get IP addresses and email account names linked to Leister through cooperation from Kik. Wood then tracked the IP addresses to actual physical addresses using subpoenas issued by the courts. Neither of the internet accounts used by Leister were in his name.
“Kik states 20 files of suspected child pornography were uploaded by the user ‘linktothemast’ and shared with another user or group of users. Of the 20 video files uploaded, five of them were repeats, leaving 15 individual video files to provided to NCMEC and myself,” Wood wrote in a report filed in court.
In his initial hearing before Magistrate James Burns, bail was set at $10,000 cash or surety, meaning he wasn’t allowed to take advantage of the program that allows posting 10% of bail for residents.
Should any of the children in the videos be identified, it is possible the court will issue restraining orders against Leister.
Leister’s case will progress through Steuben Circuit Court, where his next hearing is set for March 7 at 1 p.m.
Robert Hardy was appointed as public defender for Leister.