Score:   1
Docket Number:   ND-OH  1:19-cr-00003
Case Name:   United States of America v. Close
  Press Releases:
A Richland County man formerly affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America pleaded guilty in federal court to sexual exploitation of children after he surreptitiously recorded children changing before and after swimming.

Thomas Close, 39, of Shelby, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of children and one count of receiving and distributing child pornography. He is scheduled to be sentenced January 15.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Close is expected to be sentenced to between 27 and 33 years in prison.

According to an affidavit filed in the case:

Homeland Security Investigations agents received information from the Cyber Crimes Center regarding videos taken of minor boys changing before or after swimming at the YMCA in Sandusky.

A review of several videos revealed they were recorded at the YMCA facility in Sandusky, which sometimes rented its pool to the Boy Scouts, inside teepees used at the Firelands Scout Reservation in Wakeman, as well as inside the bathroom of a home that appeared to have a swimming pool.

Investigators met with Boy Scouts of America officials in Cleveland, whose area includes seven counties. Due to the fact that all of the photos appear to revolve around changing before or after swimming, Boy Scout officials alerted investigators to an incident report from June 2017 documenting an occurrence at the Firelands Scout Reservation they felt could be related. The report was made by a den leader regarding a Boy Scouts of America staff member named Thomas Close, also known as “Aqua Joe,” according to the affidavit.

Close was associated with Boy Scout Troop 406 and had a pool in his back yard.

HSI investigators went to Close’s home on November 1, 2018. Upon viewing his bathroom, they realized it is the same bathroom depicted in one of the videos. Close admitted to making the videos and said he created videos between 2011 and the summer of 2018, according to the affidavit.

He also admitted to downloading child pornography and said he had approximately five terabytes of child pornography on his computer, according to the affidavit.

“This defendant used his position of trust to exploit several children and cause harm that will likely linger for years for his victims and their families,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “This defendant needs to be locked up for decades and today’s plea is another important step in making sure that happens.”

"Mr. Close's admission today will hopefully begin the healing process for all of those who have been impacted by his heinous crimes," said Vance Callender, HSI special agent in charge for Michigan and Ohio. "I commend the community who supported this sensitive investigation and the pursuit of justice throughout this difficult period.  Among its many types of investigations, HSI looks to bring swift justice to perpetrators of child exploitation through a victim centered approach."

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said: “Hard work by law enforcement has taken another child predator off the street.  We will continue to work with our federal partners to put an end to these crimes.”

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Shelby Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol M. Skutnik.

Thomas Close is awaiting trial on charges of production of child pornography related to his alleged surreptitious recording of boys changing after swimming as part of Boy Scout activities.

Close, 40, lived in Richland County. He was known as “Aqua Joe” because he worked with the Boy Scouts of America, often with their swimming program.

Close is accused of secretly recording boys changing after they swam. His alleged crimes are believed to have happened in Ohio between 2011 and 2018. Close remains in jail pending the outcome of his federal criminal case.

If anyone suspects they or their children were recorded by the defendant, they are asked to email their contact information to Homeland Security Investigations at HSI-CLOSE-Investigation@ice.dhs.gov. Please attach a photo of the child in question, preferably a photo that was taken around the years that CLOSE would have had contact with your child you or your child had contact with Mr. Close so investigators can positively identify or rule out if the child is associated with this case. A member of the investigative team will respond to your request.

The privacy of crime victims and survivors is of the utmost importance. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will do everything in its power to protect the privacy of anyone who responds to this inquiry.

A Richland County man affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America was arrested and charged in federal court with production of child pornography after he surreptitiously recorded children changing.

Thomas Close, 39, of Shelby, was charged with sexual exploitation of children and receiving and distributing child pornogrpahy. The investigation is ongoing.

According to an affidavit filed in the case:

Homeland Security Investigations agents received information from the Cyber Crimes Center regarding videos taken of minor boys changing before or after swimming at the YMCA in Sandusky.

A review of several videos revealed they were recorded at the YMCA facility in Sandusky, which sometimes rented its pool to the Boy Scouts, inside teepees used at the Firelands Scout Reservation in Wakeman, as well as inside the bathroom of a home that appeared to have a swimming pool.

Investigators met with Boy Scouts of America officials in Cleveland, whose area includes seven counties. Due to the fact that all of the photos appear to revolve around changing before or after swimming, Boy Scout officials alerted investigators to an incident report from June 2017 documenting an occurrence at the Firelands Scout Reservation they felt could be related. The report was made by a den leader regarding a Boy Scouts of America staff member named Thomas Close, also known as “Aqua Joe,” according to the affidavit.

Close is associated with Boy Scout Troop 406 and has a pool in his back yard.

HSI investigators went to Close’s home on Nov. 1. Upon viewing his bathroom, they realized it is the same bathroom depicted in one of the videos. Close admitted to making the videos and said he created videos between 2011 and the summer of 2018, according to the affidavit.

He also admitted to downloading child pornography and said he had approximately five terabytes of child pornography on his computer, according to the affidavit.

“This case was solved because of good investigative work but also because a parent who was trained to look for signs of suspicious activity raised their concerns to Scout leadership,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “We all have an obligation to be aware of what is taking place around us and let authorities know when there are concerns.”

“This individual is accused of violating his position of trust with the Boy Scouts and as a teacher to exploit and take advantage of young people under his supervision," said Steve Francis, special agent in charge of HSI for Michigan and Ohio. "The exploitation of children is reprehensible, and HSI has highly skilled and dedicated special agents to investigate child exploitation crimes to ensure that we identify and arrest perpetrators while protecting our most vulnerable population, our children."

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.  In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than maximum. 

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Shelby Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol M. Skutnik.

A charge is only an allegation and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Anyone with knowledge of the man’s unsupervised contact with children should contact HSI at 216-749-9602.

 

Docket (0 Docs):   https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1hCYAgxTjROSzDPS1srwZFFAHHKI463Xujkrq_Q3q8v0/edit#gid=0
  Last Updated: 2021-04-17 01:14:14 UTC
Description: The fiscal year of the data file obtained from the AOUSC
Format: YYYY

Description: The code of the federal judicial circuit where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: The code of the federal judicial district where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: The code of the district office where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: Docket number assigned by the district to the case
Format: A7

Description: A unique number assigned to each defendant in a case which cannot be modified by the court
Format: A3

Description: A unique number assigned to each defendant in a case which can be modified by the court
Format: A3

Description: A sequential number indicating whether a case is an original proceeding or a reopen
Format: N5

Description: Case type associated with the current defendant record
Format: A2

Description: Case type associated with a magistrate case if the current case was merged from a magistrate case
Format: A2

Description: A concatenation of district, office, docket number, case type, defendant number, and reopen sequence number
Format: A18

Description: A concatenation of district, office, docket number, case type, and reopen sequence number
Format: A15

Description: The docket number originally given to a case assigned to a magistrate judge and subsequently merged into a criminal case
Format: A7

Description: A unique number assigned to each defendant in a magistrate case
Format: A3

Description: The status of the defendant as assigned by the AOUSC
Format: A2

Description: A code indicating the fugitive status of a defendant
Format: A1

Description: The date upon which a defendant became a fugitive
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which a fugitive defendant was taken into custody
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date when a case was first docketed in the district court
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which proceedings in a case commenced on charges pending in the district court where the defendant appeared, or the date of the defendant’s felony-waiver of indictment
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: A code used to identify the nature of the proceeding
Format: N2

Description: The date when a defendant first appeared before a judicial officer in the district court where a charge was pending
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: A code indicating the event by which a defendant appeared before a judicial officer in the district court where a charge was pending
Format: A2

Description: A code indicating the type of legal counsel assigned to a defendant
Format: N2

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE1
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE1
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE1
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE1
Format: A3

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the second highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE2
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE2
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE2
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE2
Format: A3

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the third highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE3
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE3
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE3
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE3
Format: A3

Description: The FIPS code used to indicate the county or parish where an offense was committed
Format: A5

Description: The date of the last action taken on the record
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which judicial proceedings before the court concluded
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which the final sentence is recorded on the docket
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which the case was closed
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The total fine imposed at sentencing for all offenses of which the defendant was convicted and a fine was imposed
Format: N8

Description: A count of defendants filed including inter-district transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants filed excluding inter-district transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of original proceedings commenced
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants filed whose proceedings commenced by reopen, remand, appeal, or retrial
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated including interdistrict transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated excluding interdistrict transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of original proceedings terminated
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated whose proceedings commenced by reopen, remand, appeal, or retrial
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants pending as of the last day of the period including long term fugitives
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants pending as of the last day of the period excluding long term fugitives
Format: N1

Description: The source from which the data were loaded into the AOUSC’s NewSTATS database
Format: A10

Description: A sequential number indicating the iteration of the defendant record
Format: N2

Description: The date the record was loaded into the AOUSC’s NewSTATS database
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: Statistical year ID label on data file obtained from the AOUSC which represents termination year
Format: YYYY

Data imported from FJC Integrated Database
Magistrate Docket Number:   ND-OH  1:18-mj-02257
Case Name:   United States of America v. Close
Description: The fiscal year of the data file obtained from the AOUSC
Format: YYYY

Description: The code of the federal judicial circuit where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: The code of the federal judicial district where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: The code of the district office where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: Docket number assigned by the district to the case
Format: A7

Description: A unique number assigned to each defendant in a case which cannot be modified by the court
Format: A3

Description: A unique number assigned to each defendant in a case which can be modified by the court
Format: A3

Description: A sequential number indicating whether a case is an original proceeding or a reopen
Format: N5

Description: Case type associated with the current defendant record
Format: A2

Description: Case type associated with a magistrate case if the current case was merged from a magistrate case
Format: A2

Description: A concatenation of district, office, docket number, case type, defendant number, and reopen sequence number
Format: A18

Description: A concatenation of district, office, docket number, case type, and reopen sequence number
Format: A15

Description: The docket number originally given to a case assigned to a magistrate judge and subsequently merged into a criminal case
Format: A7

Description: A unique number assigned to each defendant in a magistrate case
Format: A3

Description: The status of the defendant as assigned by the AOUSC
Format: A2

Description: A code indicating the fugitive status of a defendant
Format: A1

Description: The date upon which a defendant became a fugitive
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which a fugitive defendant was taken into custody
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date when a case was first docketed in the district court
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which proceedings in a case commenced on charges pending in the district court where the defendant appeared, or the date of the defendant’s felony-waiver of indictment
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: A code used to identify the nature of the proceeding
Format: N2

Description: The date when a defendant first appeared before a judicial officer in the district court where a charge was pending
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: A code indicating the event by which a defendant appeared before a judicial officer in the district court where a charge was pending
Format: A2

Description: A code indicating the type of legal counsel assigned to a defendant
Format: N2

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE1
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE1
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE1
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE1
Format: A3

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the second highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE2
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE2
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE2
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE2
Format: A3

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the third highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE3
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE3
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE3
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE3
Format: A3

Description: The FIPS code used to indicate the county or parish where an offense was committed
Format: A5

Description: The date of the last action taken on the record
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which judicial proceedings before the court concluded
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which the final sentence is recorded on the docket
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which the case was closed
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The total fine imposed at sentencing for all offenses of which the defendant was convicted and a fine was imposed
Format: N8

Description: A count of defendants filed including inter-district transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants filed excluding inter-district transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of original proceedings commenced
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants filed whose proceedings commenced by reopen, remand, appeal, or retrial
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated including interdistrict transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated excluding interdistrict transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of original proceedings terminated
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated whose proceedings commenced by reopen, remand, appeal, or retrial
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants pending as of the last day of the period including long term fugitives
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants pending as of the last day of the period excluding long term fugitives
Format: N1

Description: The source from which the data were loaded into the AOUSC’s NewSTATS database
Format: A10

Description: A sequential number indicating the iteration of the defendant record
Format: N2

Description: The date the record was loaded into the AOUSC’s NewSTATS database
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: Statistical year ID label on data file obtained from the AOUSC which represents termination year
Format: YYYY

Data imported from FJC Integrated Database
F U C K I N G P E D O S R E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E