By Nathan Oater
Via Wyoming News Exchange
GREYBULL — A Greybull police officer was fired last week after he was arrested on a federal charge of possessing child pornography.
Police Chief Bill Brenner said officers from the Division of Criminal Investigation arrested James Christopher Wynia when he showed up to start his shift on Tuesday, Aug. 7.
Soon after, the GPD informed Wynia, via letter, of his termination.
A Colorado native, Wynia joined the GPD in September of 2016. Prior to that, he had spent about a month as a police officer in Manderson.
Brenner told town council members on Monday night that a search for Wynia’s replacement has already begun. It leaves the department with four fulltime patrol officers.
The complaint, filed Aug. 8 in U.S. District Court in Casper, alleges that on or about Dec. 21, 2017, Wynia “did knowingly possess material which contained images of child pornography” and that he “possessed and was in control of a Google account which contained an image of child pornography which had been shipped and transported in interstate commerce by means of the Internet.”
The criminal complaint alleges that the Wyoming DCI’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force launched its investigation into Wynia in early June.
It began with a cyber tip from an investigator in Colorado, who had received a tip in May about a suspect potentially in possession of child pornography in the Rifle, Colo., area.
Investigators ultimately found that an email account, which they later tied to Wynia, had been used to send a 2-minute, 11-second video file depicting child sexually exploitive material on Dec. 21, 2017 from a Verizon wireless IP address that geolocated to the Salt Lake City area. There was other IP address history on the account located in the Greybull and Billings, Mont., areas.
According to the complaint, investigators first approached Wynia’s father, who lives in Rifle, because an analyst had associated the email address with him based on a phone number listed as “verified” provided by Google. He informed them that the address was an old one that belonged to his son, who was working as a police officer in Greybull. It was then that the ICAC brought into the investigation.
The complaint proceeds to document how, starting around June 7, investigators connected email accounts and cell phones to Wynia and identify IP addresses that has used since the upload, working hand in hand with Verizon Wireless, Google, TCT and Spectrum/Charter, among others.
Investigators also observed the social media posts of Wynia and his girlfriend and conducted surveillance operations on homes tied to Wynia through subscriber information and vehicle licensing, including residences in the 500 block of South Fourth Street and the 600 block of 12th Avenue North, as well as a home on Horseshoe Lane where Wynia and his girlfriend were living at the time of his arrest.
In July, authorities received a zipped filecontaining Verizon’s response to the search warrant. From it, investigators gleaned that from the time period beginning Dec. 15 until at least Dec. 23, Wynia’s phone was using a cell phone tower in Greybull.
“In comparing this time period to the date of the uploaded video file, agents know that the upload of this file occurred within Big Horn County,” states the complaint.
According to the complaint, Wynia admitted under questioning on Aug. 7 to owning the two email accounts and the cell phone, viewing child pornography on his Samsung cell phone and that he’d last seen files of child pornography utilizing the cell phone within the past few months. He also admitted he’d been using the same application on his phone heavily in December of 2017 around the time of the file upload.
The penalty for possession of child pornography is five to 20 years imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine and five years to life supervised release.
Wynia made his initial appearance in court on Aug. 8 and his preliminary hearing was waved. Bond was set at $10,000, unsecured. It has since been posted and Wynia has been released from custody.
The terms of his release require him to reside at the home of his parents in Rifle, Colo., not to purchase or possess a computer or to have any unsupervised contact with minor children.