- An ex-GOP staffer pleaded guilty to a child pornography charge and faces 12 to 15 years in prison.
- An investigation found Ruben Verastigui took part in a chat featuring sexual depictions of children.
- “Verastigui’s release would put the public and children everywhere at-risk,” prosecutors said.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A former GOP staffer and Republican National Committee aide pleaded guilty to a child pornography charge after he admitted to possessing 50 photos and 152 videos of child pornography.
Ruben Verastigui, 27, entered a guilty plea during a video conference hearing and could face 12 to 15 years in prison under a plea deal with prosecutors.
Verastigui was involved in a ring of at least 18 other people who were trading child pornography via a chat group on an unnamed website, in which he was accused of trading sexual depictions of children and discussing killing children.
The DC Metropolitan Police arrested Verastigui in February, after an investigation. He was accused of having “distributed, received, and possessed images of child pornography” between March 2020 and February 2021, according to a press release from the MPD.
The Daily Beast reported Verastigui had worked for the Senate Republican Conference as a digital strategist until July 2020, according to his now-deleted LinkedIn profile, and he also designed social media ads for Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.
Congressional payroll records also showed Verastigui worked as a digital director for the Joint Economic Committee in 2018, Politico reported.
Following his arrest, federal prosecutors wrote in a detention memo in February that Verastigui sought out images of rape of children and discussed “in great detail” how he enjoyed seeing children abused and killed, citing a report from The Daily Beast. Chat logs included messages between Verastigui and another group chat member talking about traveling somewhere with police officers so they could kill a child, according to the memo.
“Verastigui’s release would put the public and children everywhere at-risk,” prosecutors wrote in the February memo.
A judge is set to rule on Verastigui’s sentence on October 12.