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Timothy M. O’Shea, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Daniel Peggs, 34, Altoona, Wisconsin was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to 96 months in federal prison for possessing child pornography. This prison term will be followed by 10 years of supervised release.
The case came to light when, in January 2019, a 20-year-old woman came forward and reported that she had been the victim of sexual exploitation by several men when she was 17 years old. The investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security revealed that the victim met 37-year-old Bryan Ragon at a renaissance festival in Minnesota in September 2015. Ragon returned to his home in North Carolina and the minor returned to Wisconsin. Shortly after they met, Ragon started posting the minor on Craigslist.com in Wisconsin for group sex encounters.
Daniel Peggs, using the alias Jake Thompson, responded to an ad. At the urging of Ragon, Peggs recruited other adult men for group sex, rented a hotel room and then met with the minor at a hotel in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, where he recorded the sexual activity. After this first encounter, Peggs began communicating directly with Ragon to arrange group sex encounters, and continued to meet with the minor, both individually and in group settings, and recorded some of the encounters.
On October 25, 2021, Bryan Ragon was sentenced in the Western District of North Carolina to 20 years in prison, to be followed by 30 years of supervised release.
In sentencing Peggs, Judge Peterson noted that while Peggs pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, the heart of the case was the production of images of child pornography. Judge Peterson noted that mistake of age is not a defense for the production of child pornography. Judge Peterson also found that the defendant was systematically dishonest and his claim that he didn’t know the victim was a minor was not particularly credible. The court found that Peggs was willing to do whatever it took to have sex with the minor, regardless of the risk. In imposing the sentence, Judge Peterson found that a term of imprisonment was needed to protect public from the defendant’s sexual preoccupation.
The charge against Peggs was the result of an investigation conducted by Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and Ashland County Sheriff’s Office. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Pfluger. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Wisconsin thanks the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of North Carolina for their cooperation and coordination.