Child porn suspect bound over to Belmont County Common Pleas Court

Judge Costine moves Choate’s case to higher court

Bryan Keith Choate appears Tuesday before Belmont County Western Division Judge Eric Costine. His case was bound over to common pleas court, and the grand jury could review the charges in June. T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A Flushing man facing multiple charges related to child pornography and drugs appeared briefly in Belmont County Western Division Court on Tuesday, where Judge Eric Costine ruled his case would be moved to a higher court.

Bryan Keith Choate, 38, of 150 Northwest St., Flushing is charged with five counts of second-degree felony pandering of sexually oriented matter involving a minor, five counts of fourth-degree felony pandering of sexually oriented matter involving a minor and one count of third-degree felony drug possession. Choate waived his preliminary hearing, and Costine bound the case over to Belmont County Common Pleas Court for further proceedings.

Belmont County Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Vavra said Choate’s case likely will go before a grand jury in June.

Based on his waiver, Choate’s bond of $150,000 was reduced to $100,000. He remained in the Belmont County Jail on Tuesday.

Deputies with the Belmont County Sheriff’s Department executed a search warrant on Choate’s Northwest Street residence in early May.

Investigators believe more than 100 recordings of the illicit material may have been seized, as well as about 8 grams of a substance believed to be crystal methamphetamine, drug abuse instruments and firearms. The warrant stemmed from an investigation into possession and sharing of child pornography at the residence.

The evidence recovered at the scene has been sent to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation crime lab for processing and review.

Detective Sgt. Doug Cruse of the sheriff’s department led the investigation. He said he expects the case will proceed.

“I think we’re pretty prepared with the evidence that we have to move forward with the charges he’s been charged with,” Cruse said. “I know a lot of times it’s time-consuming. This time we’re pretty fortunate that we have everything ready to go.”

He termed the evidence seized as “extremely graphic.” He added that investigators are still awaiting confirmation on the identification of the drug evidence seized.

“In general, we are much more streamlined in this case as far as time, with the exception of the drugs. We believe it’s going to come back as crystal meth, but obviously we still need to wait for the lab to confirm it,” Cruse said.

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