Des Moines grocery part owner to plead in child porn case

A West Des Moines man pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to a child pornography charge stemming from sexually explicit photos of three young relatives.

A federal grand jury indicted Eugene Dominic Graziano, Jr., 67, on four child-porn charges in September after his wife found nude photographs of young girls on his computer in the basement of their home. The discovery started an investigation by West Des Moines detectives and a special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Searches of Graziano’s computer, a digital camera and a cellphone uncovered sexually explicit photos of three girls all under the age of 10, according to a criminal complaint. The girls lived in Illinois, Kansas and Minnesota, and all of them were related to Graziano and his wife, according to the complaint.

Graziano is a part-owner of Graziano Brothers Italian Grocery, though he doesn’t hold an active position in the company, said president Frances Graziano, who is his cousin. Eugene Graziano Jr.’s grandfather was Louis Graziano, who opened the store with his brother in 1912 after immigrating to the United States from Italy. The store is known nationwide for its Italian sausage.

“Unfortunate doesn’t even cover the severity of this,” Frances Graziano said Monday. “The first and foremost responsibility for me is the safety of our public and the customers. I want to make sure that everybody knows that though this is a family-owned business, he has no active involvement.”

The details of the plea agreement are not spelled out in court documents and were not fully shared in court. Graziano pleaded guilty to one count of transportation of child pornography, a charge that carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence, after a hearing that lasted just over a half-hour.

Graziano said little during the hearing in front of U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose at the federal courthouse in Des Moines other than answering the judge’s questions. Rose noted during the hearing that Graziano has a history of depression. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for June 11.

Graziano was taken into the custody of the U.S. Marshals after the hearing, and will remain in the Polk County Jail or another facility until his sentencing. Though Graziano did not break any conditions while on pretrial release, a child pornography charge typically warrants a defendant being in jail after a guilty plea, Rose said. Graziano was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs after taking off his suit jacket and necktie.

West Des Moines detectives spoke with Graziano’s wife, Fran Graziano, on July 30 of last year after her son reported that she’d found child porn on her husband’s computer, according to the complaint. Fran Graziano told detectives she’d been suspicious of her husband for a year, as he spent much of his time on his basement computer and would abruptly shut it off if she came downstairs.

Fran Graziano found a folder on the computer that contained nude photos of girls she recognized as family members. Graziano called her husband, and he told her he’d taken the photos, according to the complaint.

Fran Graziano also told police that two months earlier she’d forced her husband into therapy after she found pornographic images of young girls on the computer, though she didn’t recognize any of the girls, according to the complaint.

In addition to photos of relatives, Eugene Graziano, Jr. had “several hundred” images of child pornography on the computer, according to the complaint. The images were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The center operates a database to try and identify child-porn victims.

source: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2015/03/02/grazianos-owner-pleads-child-porn-case/24269535/