SUDBURY -- A 41-year-old man from New York State has been convicted of child pornography charges in a case that began in North Bay in February 2018.

The investigation began when a North Bay parent was monitoring their teen son's online communication and saw a chat on Instagram and Snapchat.

"An individual, who identified themselves as a teenage female, was requesting the young person to exchange sexual images," police said in a news release Thursday.

"The investigation revealed the suspect was also attempting to make contact other teenage boys in the North Bay area. The suspect had used multiple fake usernames and profile pictures to portray himself as a teenage female."

The North Bay Police investigation involved interviews and search warrants, and eventually identified the suspect as Chad Swartwood of Castle Creek, NY.

That information was shared with the RCMP National Child Exploitation Crime Centre, who passed it to a special agent of the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations in Syracuse, NY.

Swartwood was arrested in May 2019 and charged with attempted sexual exploitation, possession of child pornography and attempted receipt of child pornography.

Pled guilty in June

"Swartwood was found in possession of several sexual images and videos that boys had sent him when he posed as a teenage girl," police said.

He pled guilty on June 17 of this year to the child pornography related charges and was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.

North Bay Police Chief Scott Tod said the case shows how important it is for parents to communicate with their children, especially during the pandemic when so many are online. "Advances in Internet service means people living in almost every community are vulnerable to these predators,” Tod said in the release.

“Investigations of this type can be complex and lengthy in nature but police are committed to investigating this type of crime," said Det. Const. Scott Buchanan. "Parents need to educate themselves to keep our children safe and keep predators out of our real and virtual communities.”

The North Bay Police Service is one of 26 municipal police services that work with the OPP child sexual exploitation unit as part of the Ontario Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet. The partnership was made possible by a grant from the Ministry of the Solicitor General.