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Hawaii island man pleads not guilty to child porn charges

By Audrey McAvoy

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:39 p.m. HST, Oct 26, 2012

A Hawaii island bed and breakfast operator pleaded not guilty today in federal court to six counts of producing child pornography.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang said John Ridgely Tucker’s trial will begin on Feb. 12.

Tucker, who is being held at the Federal Detention Center without bail, appeared dressed in a white prison jumpsuit and had metal shackles around his arms and legs. He wore brown-rimmed eyeglasses and a beard. 

An indictment filed earlier this week alleged the 56-year-old from Pahoa enticed two children to produce six images of child pornography in 2008. Prosecutors say each count carries a minimum penalty of 15 years in jail and up to 30 years in prison.

Tucker’s attorney, Brian DeLima, told reporters after the hearing that the government has yet to present its evidence to the defense. He said the defense will respond appropriately after prosecutors provide them with their evidence.

Tucker was arrested and charged earlier this month after the FBI distributed a photo of an unknown suspect believed to be on the Big Island and asked the public for help in finding him. Several people called the FBI within hours of the agency’s news release, identifying Tucker as the man in the photo. 

The FBI connected the man in the photo to the Big Island because they could see a 2008-09 Hawaii Island telephone book issued by Hawaiian Telcom in the background of one of the images. 

An affidavit submitted with the criminal complaint against Tucker said Hawaii state authorities interviewed two children who identified themselves and Tucker in the pornographic images. The children say the acts depicted occurred at Tucker’s home.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children initiated the investigation after receiving several pornographic images featuring the suspect and two minors, the affidavit said. 

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