Friday, June 22, 2018
News Roundup

Pinellas Park child porn distributor kept free by appellate judge

TAMPA — An appellate judge has extended the bail of a convicted child porn distributor who was previously ordered to jail to await sentencing.

U.S. Circuit Judge Charles Wilson ruled Friday that Michael D. Meister can remain free while the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Atlanta, decides what to do with his claim that he's deserving of special treatment because he has cancer.

Earlier this week in Tampa, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara ordered Meister to jail. The judge said he had no choice because the law considers Meister's actions to be crimes of violence. His sentencing is Dec. 19.

Meister was supposed to surrender at noon Friday. Judge Wilson's order was announced by Judge Lazzara at a related hearing at 11:30 a.m.

Meister, 57, faces a minimum of five years for possessing and distributing explicit images of young boys engaged in sex acts, including some that prosecutors called "sadistic." The images were traded over the Internet.

Since his arrest on Aug. 20, 2010, he has been released on bail and barred from the Internet. A prosecutor expressed concern in a recent court document that Meister's ankle monitor showed he had spent a lot of time in locations with free Wi-Fi.

One Wi-Fi signal is visible to anyone in proximity of his townhome near Helen Howarth Park in Pinellas Park: a wireless network called "meister."

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

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