LOCAL NEWS

U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE ANNOUNCES UPDATES IN FOUR CHILD EXPLOITATION CASES


OKLAHOMA CITY – This week, MICHAEL RIOS, 42, and JIMMY RAY PIERCE, 68, pleaded guilty to child pornography related charges; RONNIE GENE HAZELWOOD, 44, pleaded guilty to failing to register as a sex offender after a felony conviction on possession of child pornography; and KRISTIAN FERNANDEZ, 20, was charged with receipt and possession of material containing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester.

This announcement reflects the latest in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma’s ongoing commitment to aggressively pursue cases involving the sexual exploitation of minors and defendants who fail to comply with sex offender registration requirements.

The updates in the cases are as follows:

  • Michael Rios, of Oklahoma City, pleaded guilty to possession and distribution of child pornography on June 3, 2024. According to affidavit filed in support of a criminal complaint, Rios utilized an online encrypted messaging service to share child pornography. After executing a court authorized federal search warrant, FBI agents discovered a large library of child pornography on Rios’s phone. At sentencing, Rios faces no less than five years and up to 40 years in federal prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany Edgmon is prosecuting the case.
  • Jimmy Ray Pierce, of Elgin, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty to possession of material containing child pornography on June 6, 2024. According to an affidavit filed in support of a criminal complaint, in January 2024, Pierce uploaded child pornography to Facebook. While executing a court authorized search warrant, law enforcement located on his cell phone multiple videos and images depicting child pornography. At sentencing, Pierce faces up to 20 years in federal prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Ganz is prosecuting the case.
  • Ronnie Gene Hazelwood, of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, pleaded guilty to failing to register as a sex offender on June 3, 2024. According to public record, Hazelwood was previously convicted of possession of child pornography and failing to register as a sex offender in the Northern District of Oklahoma, case number 15-CR-049. These convictions required Hazelwood to register as a sex offender, but he failed to do so while residing in the Western District of Oklahoma. Hazelwood faces up to 10 years in federal prison at sentencing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Ganz is prosecuting the case.
  • ** Kristian Fernandez, of Fort Sill, Oklahoma, was charged with one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of material containing child pornography by a federal grand jury on June 4, 2024. If found guilty on the receipt count, Fernandez faces not less than five years and up to 20 years in federal prison. If found guilty on the possession count, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison. On each count, he faces a term of supervised release of no less than five years and up to life. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bow Bottomly is prosecuting the case.

** The public is reminded that these charges are merely allegations, and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

These cases are the result of investigations by the FBI Oklahoma Field Office, Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Marshals Service, the Department of the Army—Criminal Investigation Division, the Tornado Alley Child Exploitation Task Force, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and the Oklahoma City Police Department.

Reference is made to public filings for additional information.