Saturday, June 16, 2018
News Roundup

Jailing of Pinellas child porn convict followed discovery of more porn

TAMPA — Cancer patient and convicted child-porn trader Michael D. Meister was found last week with additional illicit images that appear to depict teen boys, a federal prosecutor said Monday.

That's why the St. Petersburg man was jailed Friday for the first time since the 2007 discovery of illegal photos and videos on his laptop computer.

Meister, 58, appeared briefly in court before U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara but was ordered back to the Pinellas County Jail until his Miami attorney, Michael Rosen, could join him for a hearing at week's end. Rosen monitored Monday's proceeding by phone.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Kaiser told Lazzara that the images had not yet been analyzed to confirm that the subjects were minors but suggested the possibility.

"There's a bunch of images that appear to be teen boys," she said.

In such cases, investigators typically seek comparisons with images on file at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which has a child-victim identification program.

New child porn images could expose Meister to additional criminal charges and penalties.

He was convicted in September of two counts of child-porn possession and one count of distribution, and sentenced in December to seven years in prison. Lazzara allowed him to remain free on bail, pending the outcome of an appeal, because Meister has a high-risk form of multiple myeloma and is undergoing treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center.

Tampa defense attorney Bryant Camareno, a former federal prosecutor who is not involved in the case, said any new sentence would likely be imposed consecutively to the prior sentence.

Even pornographic images of adults would pose problems, because under terms of his release, Meister isn't supposed to have access to the Internet. Such behavior could jeopardize continued bail.

The terms of Meister's release allowed routine inspection of his computer, though the government said last fall that inspections had not been occurring.

But Deputy U.S. Marshal Ron Lindbak said the court's Pretrial Services Office determined last week that Meister was accessing the Internet. The judge said he got a call after lunch Friday notifying him that Pat Welch, the officer who supervises Meister, was seeking a warrant.

Meister was arrested at a marina and booked into the jail shortly after 6 p.m.

After rescheduling the hearing, Lazzara told Meister he wanted to ask him some pointed questions. They all related to Meister's health. The judge wanted to know if Meister was getting adequate medical care in the Pinellas County Jail.

Meister said he was without his medicines for pain and bipolar disorder.

"Right now, I'm not getting any medications at all from the facility I'm in," Meister said.

The judge asked the U.S. Marshals Service to ensure that the jail was aware of the man's medical history.

Meanwhile, Meister's attorney filed a request Monday with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, asking for an extension to file an appellate brief that was due this week.

Staff writer Patty Ryan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3382.

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