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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Eleazer, Carrie

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 9/7/2016 

 PCSO Detectives Additionally Charge Suspect Arrested During July Child Pornography Investigation 

On Tuesday, September 6, 2016, PCSO detectives filed 132 additional charges against Polk County Jail Inmate James Ballone (DOB 11/18/1962), who was arrested during a July 2016 undercover child pornography investigation and has been in jail since that time. 

He was originally charged with 65 counts Possession of Child Pornography, with bond assessed at $15,000 per count.  

Here is a breakdown of the 132 additional charges:

  • 2 counts Capital Sexual Battery (F-C)
  • 6 counts Lewd Molestation (F-L)
  • 4 counts Lewd Exhibition (F-2)
  • 3 counts of Promotion of Sexual Performance (F-2)
  • 1 count Unnatural and Lascivious Act (M-2)
  • 1 count Showing Obscene Material to a Minor (F-3)
  • 115 counts Possession of Child Pornography (F-2)

He now has a total of 197 charges.

"The reason we fiercely track down and arrest those who manufacture, collect, trade, or distribute child pornography is to identify and rescue the victims of child pornography. The graphic images that we see are not just children without clothes on – they are horrific images of children being repeatedly sexually battered. When we make an arrest for child pornography, we dig deeper to determine if the suspect physically abused a child, and when we are able to positively identify a victim of sexual abuse, we can get them and their families the help and treatment that they need to cope with this terrible abuse.” – Sheriff Grady Judd

The new charges stem from follow-up investigation and forensic analysis on equipment seized from Ballone’s home during “Operation Child Shield III.” During child pornography investigations, detectives routinely seize suspects’ electronics, including cell phones, hard drives, computers, and laptops, and conduct a thorough forensic analysis – in some cases, additional files containing child pornography are located, and more child pornography charges are filed against the suspects. Detectives also interview any children with whom child pornography suspects have access to, to determine whether or not suspects engage in illegal sexual activity with minors.

During this investigation, detectives found what appeared to be child pornographic images created by Ballone, in his home, with two live two-year-old male victims. The two victims were both positively identified as children with whom Ballone had access.  Both victims were interviewed, and based upon their interviews and the images found on Ballone’s computers, there is probable cause to believe that Ballone sexually battered both children. During this investigation, detectives interviewed all children with whom Ballone had access, and found two additional victims who had been exposed to adult pornography, for a total of four children who were victimized by Ballone. Ballone’s home and vehicle were filled with children’s toys, car seats, blankets, stuffed animals, furniture, and the latest electronics and gaming equipment.

  By the numbers:

  • Four (4) search warrants were served
  • 52 devices/hard drives were seized
  • Over 4,500 images/videos of child pornography were found
  • 65 of those images were produced by Ballone with local victims
  • 23 known children he had access to
  • Four (4) local victims were positively identified and are receiving help (2 victims of sexual battery and promotion/child porn, and 2 victims of lewd exhibition – see below)

The following are excerpts from the affidavits describing the new charges:

“Between July 13, 2016 and August 10, 2016 during the forensic examinations of 14 different electronic storage devices/media belonging to James Ballone, PCSO detectives located over 4,000 images and at least 70 videos depicting child pornography. All of the additional files located within the 14 seized electronic storage devices depict prepubescent juveniles engaged in sex acts with adults and/or other children, and/or children involved in lewd exhibition. Several of these files depicted infants as young as one to two months old. 

On five of the 14 electronic storage devices/media, more than 160 images depict a two-year-old child [victim #1], positively identified as a child with whom Ballone had access. The images depicting the victim are believed to have been captured within James Ballone's residence based on several pieces of identifiable furnishings inside the Ballone's residence, as seen by PCSO detectives during the execution of the prior residential search warrant, including but not limited to, an easily identifiable sheet on a couch accompanied by easily identifiable flooring in the living room of the residence.

Ballone is also seen in some of the images with the child, where the child is either partially clothed or nude, and Ballone is sexually molesting the child. The child was positively identified by the child’s mother.  The Polk County Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit immediately initiated an investigation in relation to sexual battery against the two (2) year old victim with James Ballone as the suspect.”

Ballone was subsequently charged with the following crimes against this victim [victim #1]:

  • 2 counts Capital Sexual Battery on a Minor (F-C)
  • 2 counts Lewd Molestation (F-L)
  • 3 counts of Promotion of Sexual Performance (F-2)
  • 115 counts Possession of Child Pornography (F-2)
  • 3 counts Lewd Exhibition (F-2)
  • 1 count Unnatural and Lascivious Act (M-2)  

“Images were recovered from the suspect’s electronic devices of an approximately 2-year-old child [victim #2] in several sexual positions, depicting the suspect sexually molesting the victim. The suspect engaged in sexual activity with the victim between 2010 and 2011, when the victim was 2 to 3 years of age. The child’s mother positively identified the child.”

Ballone was subsequently charged with the following crimes against this victim [victim #2]:

  • 4 counts Lewd Molestation (F-L)

Ballone made a 6-year-old and a 11-year-old child [victims #3 & #4] watch adult pornographic movies on the television in his living room.

During interviews with these victims, they stated:

"We were in the living room watching it on the big TV, the people were naked and touching down there. Their clothes were off. It was something [the suspect] showed me. He told me to come and look at this, and he told me it was ‘Tom and Jerry,’ but it was this movie. The people in the movie were doing nasty stuff”

"I went to Jim’s, he has cameras all over the place, even in the bathroom.”

One day, the victim watched the suspect and his wife having sex in a bedroom, and saw the suspect taking pictures of his wife while she was naked. The suspect would also occasionally have sex in the living room in front of the children. The suspect told one of the victims, “If you tell anyone you will be in trouble by me.”

Ballone was subsequently charged with the following crimes against these two victims [victims #3 & #4]:

  • 1 count Lewd Exhibition (F-2)
  • 1 count Showing Obscene Material to a Minor (F-3)

Ballone’s criminal history includes two prior arrests, in 1983 by the Seneca Falls P.D. for “sodomy on a child under 11 years of age”, and in 1984 by the Ontario County S.O. for “sexual contact with a person one to 14 years of age,” both in New York; the 1983 arrest was downgraded to misdemeanor sexual abuse, for which he was sentenced to 60 days in jail and 3 years’ probation; the 1984 resulted in a paid fine and time served.

The original child porn investigation came as a result of a search warrant executed at 323 Elm Street in Bartow, where 53-year-old James Ballone lived. Ballone told detectives he owned J&K Cleaning Service. Detectives seized computer equipment from the home, and during an initial preview of the equipment, located 65 files depicting child pornography. Ballone was taken into custody without incident on July 14, 2016, and charged with 65 counts Possession of Child Pornography - Enhanced (F-2). 

Ballone will have a first appearance hearing at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 8, 2016.