Mercer County man indicted for explicit images of youths

March 6, 2012 11:14 pm

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A Mercer County man already in jail on accusations that he had sex with a child has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he took explicit photos of three young girls, some of which were likely accessed by people in other states, according to documents unsealed Monday.

Armando Cruz, 43, of Mercer, remained in the Mercer County Prison tonight on four federal charges of producing material depicting the sexual exploitation of a child and state charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child and corruption of minors.

FBI agents were tipped off to Mr. Cruz after they stumbled upon encrypted images with the file name "Armcruz" while investigating a Denver man accused of sexually abusing his daughters. Interviews conducted during that investigation led agents to a man in San Diego, who admitted to entering Mr. Cruz's home and taking a photo in which he pulled back a young girl's shirt while she was sleeping, according to a search warrant application filed in Mr. Cruz's case.

Agents in San Diego forwarded a DVD with hundreds of images to their counterparts in Pittsburgh who found images of three girls, ages 11, 10 and 9. At least five of the images contained photos of two of the girls partially clothed, investigators wrote.

Court records show that Mr. Cruz was arrested on the state charges on Feb. 15, the same day federal agents searched his home. A federal grand jury indicted him on the federal charges about two weeks later.

Online court records did not indicate whether the two cases were connected. One of the girls who was photographed in the federal case told investigators Mr. Cruz gave her a cloudy, white drink while she was in his home and that her memory became hazy after she drank it.

Liz Navratil: or 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil
First Published 2012-03-06 22:14:45

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