Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ex-Tampa police officer takes plea deal in child porn case

TAMPA — On Monday, a Valrico man charged with possessing child pornography changed his plea to guilty, ready to take a deal. It happens regularly in U.S. District Court.

But this time, the man was a former Tampa police officer who retired nine days after federal authorities searched his home and seized a computer, saying they found illegal images of children.

Jonathan N. Gamson, 53, was implicated during Operation Gondola, a global effort to take down child predators conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

He accessed images through the Internet and stored them on his computer, according to a plea agreement he signed.

"The images of child pornography recovered on the computer depict minors involved in sexually explicit conduct," the plea agreement states. "At least one of the images of child pornography involves an image of a baby."

Gamson declined to comment Monday, as did his attorney, Robert Herce.

Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy, contacted by the Tampa Bay Times, issued this statement from the department:

"Jon Gamson suddenly resigned from the department in May of 2011. To learn he was engaged in criminal activity is an enormous sense of betrayal and the nature of his crimes makes it even worse. It is a mammoth fall from the high standards that the Tampa Police Department represents. We will take the necessary steps to ensure he never works in law enforcement again."

Gamson was employed as a Tampa police officer on the dates when the government says the images were accessed.

His Tampa police career began Aug. 11, 1986, and ended May 20, 2011.

On May 11, 2011, agents searched the home he shares with his wife after finding evidence that the Internet address had been used in 2010 to access child pornography.

A forensic analysis of the seized Hewlett-Packard Pavilion computer found five distinct images, one dating to Aug. 21, 2006, the record states.

On the day of the search, he told officers that someone had been "hacking into his Internet connection and leaving images on his computers," it states.

The quantity of porn found on the computer was minimal compared with caches — at times reaching 75,000 images — found with other defendants caught during Operation Gondola.

Gamson initially faced three charges of possession of child pornography and an additional charge relating to the destruction of records. He was indicted Oct. 23, arrested the next day and freed on $35,000 bail. He initially pleaded not guilty.

In the plea agreement, he admitted to one count of possession. Prosecutors agreed to drop the other three charges.

Gamson appeared Monday before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Jenkins and she accepted his guilty plea. But it will be up to U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven to adjudicate him and impose a sentence. That won't occur until a presentence investigation is finished.

Gamson has no prior arrests in the state, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records.

His personnel file was not available but over the course of a 25-year career, bits of his work have wound up in news stories.

In 2006, he was clearing Seminole Heights of prostitutes. In 2003, he made sergeant. In 1997, he was coordinating a community policing program. In 1995, he aired frustration over domestic violence victims who balk at testifying.

And back in the 1990s, he was seeking recognition for a Tampa police program aimed at identifying sex offenders.

Now, by terms of the plea agreement, he will have to register as one.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine.

Times news researcher John Martin and staff writer Michael LaForgia contributed to this report. Patty Ryan can be reached at pryan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3382.

Ex-Tampa police officer takes plea deal in child porn case 02/04/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 12:06am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards

    Business

    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

]

  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say

    Crime

    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.