Canyon Country Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison for Producing Child Sexual Abuse Material
February 10, 2024 - LOS ANGELES, CA – A Santa Clarita man who is a former Navy SEAL was sentenced on Thursday to 20 years in federal prison for producing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) for surreptitiously filming nude minor victims with hidden cameras in a residential setting.
Robert Quido Stella, 51, of Canyon Country, was sentenced by United States District Judge George H. Wu.
At the conclusion of a four-day trial in May 2023, a jury found Stella guilty of three counts of production of child pornography. In April 2023, prior to trial, Stella pleaded guilty to access with intent to view child pornography and two counts possession of child pornography.
In 2021, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) received a tip that Stella had accessed a dark web child pornography website.
On July 15, 2021, agents found collections of CSAM on Stella’s computer and two external hard drives. Stella concealed some of the collections in digital folders structures bearing misleading titles such as “federal contracts” and “tax returns.”
During the investigation, HSI agents also found hidden cameras that Stella placed, including one disguised as a USB charging block. According to evidence presented at trial, Stella used that hidden camera to film his minor victims as they undressed to shower and used the bathroom.
HSI later located approximately 17 videos and over 100 screenshots from those videos of minor victims naked and partially undressed. Stella hid these images under multi-level digital folder structures on a hard drive bearing misleading titles such as “course work.”
Stella has been in custody since his arrest in July 2021.
HSI investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorneys Catharine A. Richmond and Lyndsi C. Allsop of the Violent and Organized Crime Section prosecuted this case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Source: DOJ Release