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March 30 • 11:02 AM
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Businessman linked to 2001 child porn probe



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November 14, 2007
LAPEER — A federal investigation that began in 2001 has led to the arrest of an Imlay City businessman for possessing child pornography.

Asst. Lapeer Prosecutor Steve Beatty said William David Wallace, 48, of Metamora, was arraigned this week for the possession of child sexual abusive material.

Wallace, the owner of Virgilio's Banquet Center in Imlay City, was implicated through Operation Downfall, an investigation focused on illegal Web sites operating outside the United States.

During the investigation, police were able to trace the credit card numbers of individuals attempting to purchase pornographic images of children on the sites.

Based on credit card information, a search warrant was executed at Wallace's residence in 2003, which revealed a computer linking him to an illegal site.

Beatty said possession of child pornography is a four-year felony. If found guilty, Wallace would also be required to register as a sex offender.

He added that the delay in charging Wallace was the result of a backlog at the Michigan State Police computer lab in Lansing.

"No exam date has been set," said Beatty. "At this time, he (Wallace) has to be presumed innocent."

The 2001 investigation led to two other area men being charged with possessing child pornography. Others implicated include North Branch teacher/football coach Eric Hyde and former Woodside School teacher Scott Beyer.

Hyde, who faces arraignment in Lapeer Circuit Court on Dec. 3, was placed on paid leave from his teaching duties at North Branch schools after his arrest. On Monday, Hyde requested, and was granted, a year's unpaid leave by the North Branch Board of Education.

"He realized that this matter was not going to be resolved as quickly as he thought," said schools Supt. Al Pewinski. "He requested the unpaid leave and it was granted. I give him credit for that."

Beyer accepted a plea agreement and was placed on probation. As a result of the agreement, he lost his job at Woodside and his teacher certification.

Beatty stressed that the three men are not linked, other than being subjects of the larger investigation. Nor is there evidence to suggest they had contact with children via the Internet, he said.

Contact Tom Wearing at twearing@pageone-inc.com or 810-724-2615.

Staff Writer
Village Barn Carpets
Castle Creek
03 - 30 - 17
11:02
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