PORT CHARLOTTE, FL – On Friday, November 6th, 2020, William Thomas, 70, of Port Charlotte, Florida, appeared in court on charges that dated back to a 2018 arrest and was sentenced to 15 years in the Florida Department of Corrections followed by 15 years of sexual predator probation.
A 2018 investigation began when the task force was alerted to suspicious activity occurring in chat rooms hosted by Chatango, a website that hosts live group chats. The CEO of the company, contacted the task force in regards to a group of individuals who were using Chatango’s chat application to discuss, distribute, and trade child pornography. Chatango advised that they had shut several of the sites down, but the group continued to make new ones, attempting to disguise their IP addresses.
Chatango estimated there were between two to four individuals who were continuing to create and host these chat rooms. He reported that one of the individuals, who appeared to be a participant in the chat rooms, is located in the Port Charlotte, Florida area based on log information Chantango routinely collects. Information on the login names and IP addresses used by the individual were provided to the task force investigators.
Investigators reviewed the content of the chat rooms, gaining access to a video shared in the chat room through Dropfile links shared in the room. The video depicted a juvenile female performing sex acts. Deputy First Class Woelke was able to confirm that the IP address that provided the video link was assigned to a Comcast subscriber identified as Bill Thomas, of 233 Stebbins Terrace in Port Charlotte. A check of the address showed sex offender William Thomas registered to that same address.
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On April 12, a search warrant was served on the Stebbins Terrace address. William Thomas requested an attorney prior to providing any statements. A search of his computer activity showed Williams had accounts on two chat/messaging programs, which he had not reported per his sex offender obligations.
During the search of the vehicle belonging to William, a pair of children’s panties (size 4) were located along with a pair of binoculars. Once the forensic examiner exploited the digital data from William’s laptop computer, the username associated with the video was located in the Chatango online application under the computer profile “bill”.
The FBI Fort Myers Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force arrested William Henry Thomas, on two counts of failure to comply with registration laws and one count of transmission of pornography by electronic device by person in another state. He was previously adjudicated guilty on December 20, 2002 in Charlotte County for Possession of Child Pornography. A Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office deputy, Deputy First Class Woelke, serves on this task force and participated in the investigation.