Ex-Port Neches fire chief arrested again for child porn; yet to be indicted locally

Published 12:12 am Saturday, October 7, 2023

The former fire chief for the City of Port Neches, who has to this point avoided indictment on child pornography charges following a 2021 arrest, is again facing similar charges, this time in Montgomery County.

Paul Edward Nelson, 57, of Conroe was arrested Monday for promotion of child pornography, a second degree felony, and online solicitation of a minor, a third degree felony.

Montgomery County Constable Ryan Gable’s Criminal Investigations Division executed the arrest warrant and a residential search warrant.

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Authorities contend Nelson actively chatted with a child under the age of 14 in The Woodlands and allegedly sent and requested explicit photos of child sexual assault material to the known juvenile victim, according to information from Gable’s office.

During the course of the investigation, detectives reportedly developed information that led to the two warrants.

Bond for the two charges total $200,000, and Nelson was still listed on the inmate roster in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County arrest warrant

According to the Montgomery County arrest warrant , the female juvenile victim said she made a post on Reddit and interacted with an unknown person on the Internet who portrayed themselves as a 35-year-old lesbian woman who asked if she wanted to talk.

The juvenile was reportedly told the woman, “Janette from Spring,” was a single mother of a 13-year-old daughter and they actively participated in a nudist lifestyle.

Law enforcement located the juvenile victim and met with her and her parents, where they reportedly confirmed the Cyber Tip information. A photo was allegedly sent from “Janette” to the juvenile of what appeared to be a female between the ages of 12 and 16 that Janette said was her daughter who attended a middle school in Spring.

“Janette” reportedly sent nude female adult photos to the juvenile, and the victim was asked to send explicit photos of herself, as well.

Law enforcement sent an administrative subpoena to Reddit for information on IP connection logs and the investigation continued. The information reportedly led law enforcement to Nelson and showed he was previously charged in Jefferson County.

The Montgomery County arrest document stated Nelson had used the same “modus operandi” for the offence as he used in Jefferson County by portraying himself as a female member of a nudist community to solicit explicit content from a child.

In January 2021 Nelson was arrested in Port Neches on two charges of possession and promotion of child pornography. Bond was set at $50,000 and he bonded out the next day.

The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office said in 2021 that members of the Office of the Texas Attorney General’s Child Exploitation Unit executed the arrest and search warrant for Nelson.

The warrants were 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.

A representative of Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office said on Thursday no case was ever filed on Nelson.

Port Neches Police Chief Cheri Griffith, who was not chief at the time of Nelson’s arrest, said PNPD is under the impression the Jefferson County cases are still active.

Griffith said PNPD assisted the Texas Attorney General’s Child Exploitation Office when the agency came out to search Nelson’s property but had no involvement in the case since then.

The Texas Attorney General’s Child Exploitation Office did not respond to phone and email questions from The Port Arthur News seeking an update on the case.

Mike Holley, first assistant district attorney with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, said they are aware of the charges pending in Jefferson County.

Holley could not speak on Nelson’s case specifically but said that generally a defendant’s criminal history is significant in terms of determining the outcome of a case.

An initial hearing for Nelson is scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 12 in the 359th District Court in Montgomery County.