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Port Neches city leaders react, respond to fire chief’s child porn arrest

PORT NECHES — City leaders were shocked to learn Wednesday that the Port Neches fire chief had been arrested, accused of possession and promoting child pornography.

Paul Nelson, 54, is being held in the Jefferson County Jail on two charges of promotion of child pornography.

Nelson has been suspended from his post, and assistant fire chief Mike Stegall has been designated acting fire chief, a city leader said.

The arrest came as a surprise to city leaders.

“As you would expect with most of these types of situations, it certainly was a surprise,” Port Neches City Manager André Wimer said Wednesday afternoon when reached by Port Arthur Newsmedia.

Wimer deferred other questions to the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Port Neches Mayor Glenn Johnson deferred questions to Police Chief Paul Lemoine.

A release from Lemoine deferred questions to Communications Director Alejandro Garcia of the Attorney General’s office.

Garcia has not immediately responded to a Port Arthur Newsmedia request for comment.

Nelson was hired in 2016 and replaced former fire chief Stephen Curran.

Jail records indicate Nelson’s arrest took place at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Retiring Port Neches Fire Chief Steve Curran, right, holds up a Road Atlas given to him by the new chief, Paul Nelson, during a ceremony in 2016. (Mary Meaux/The News)

The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office said members of the Office of the Texas Attorney General’s Child Exploitation Unit executed an arrest and search warrant for Nelson.

The warrants are the result of a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline Report from a social media site involving the transmission and receipt of child pornography through private messages, according to the D.A.’s office.

The District Attorney’s Office said a person commits the offense of Promotion of Child Pornography if the person knowingly or intentionally promotes or possesses with intent to promote visual material that visually depicts, and that the person knows depicts, a child younger than 18 years of age engaging in sexual conduct. (Texas Penal Code Section 43.26).

Promotion of Child Pornography is a second-degree felony offense. The range of punishment is two (2) to twenty (20) years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.00.

The investigation is ongoing at this time, and no further comment will be made by the District Attorney’s Office.

This story has been updated at https://www.panews.com/2021/01/14/ags-office-port-neches-police-chief-detail-child-porn-arrest-pn-fire-chief-bails-out/