Wisconsin man among 4 sentenced for child exploitation on Tor network

US Department of Justice seal / (MGN)

WASHINGTON, DC (WBAY) - A Wisconsin man is among four sentenced to federal prison for their roles in an anonymous network sharing photos and videos of children being sexually abused.

The U.S. Department of Justice says Patrick Falte, 29, of Tennessee, created the "Giftbox Exchange" website on the Tor network which makes users' network addresses anonymous. Users who wanted to join Falte's website had to share photos or videos of preteen children being sexually abused to become members.

The DOJ says when the Giftbox Exchange was shut down, it had 72,000 users.

Prosecutors say Brett Bedusek, 35, of Cudahy was not only a VIP member of the website but also a moderator -- at the same time he was on supervised release for his conviction on federal charges of receiving child pornography.

Friday, Bedusek was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison.

Falte and an administrator of his website, Benjamin Faulkner, 28, of Ontario, Canada, were sentenced to 35 years in federal prison. But both men are already serving life sentences in Virginia for repeatedly sexually abusing a toddler.

Andrew Leslie, 24, of Florida, who was a member of the Giftbox Exchange and ran his own anonymous network for sharing sexual abuse photos, received a 30-year sentence. He's also serving 60 years in prison for Florida in connection with sexual abuse and production of child pornography.

The DOJ says in addition to use the anonymity network, Falte and the co-conspirators used file encryption, cryptography and other technology to hide their crimes from law enforcement. The case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's High Technology Investigative Unit and Homeland Security Investigations.