From the office of District Attorney Mark Peterson:
On July 7, 2016, a Grand Jury in Contra Costa County indicted twenty-seven year old Danville resident Nickolas Robert Thurston on charges he distributed and possessed child pornography, conspired to access protected computer systems and used the identities of multiple women in an attempt to unlawfully gain access to their “cloud” computer accounts.
Following indictment, Danville police arrested Thurston at his home on July 12, 2016 and he is currently in the custody of the Contra Costa County Sheriff with bail set at 1.5 million dollars. Thurston will make his first appearance in court on July 12, 2016 in front of the Honorable Patricia Scanlon.
The indictment alleges that between January 1, 2016 and May 24, 2016, Thurston conspired with an unnamed co-conspirator to unlawfully access the protected “cloud” accounts of women and girls that he knew in an attempt to gain revealing photographs of them and distributed their personal information in order to further the plan. The indictment further alleges that Thurston operated a website to distribute child pornography and directly distributed images of a 9 year old girl engaged in sexual activity via email.
On May 24, 2016, investigators from the Contra Costa County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force served a search warrant on Buena Vista Drive in Danville. During the course of that search warrant service, investigators developed probable cause to arrest Thurston and numerous items of evidence were seized from his house.
Thurston has been indicted on two counts of distribution of child pornography in violation of California Penal Code 311.2(c), one count of possession of child pornography in violation of California Penal Code 311.11(a), four counts of identity theft in violation of California Penal Code 530.5(a), three counts of accessing or attempting to access a protected computer system to steal files in violation of California Penal Code 502(c)(1) and conspiracy to commit computer theft in violation of California Penal Code 182(a)(1).
The maximum penalty for the above charged offenses is approximately five years and a requirement to register as a sex offender. An indictment is an allegation that a crime has occurred and all charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. All defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty.
The District Attorney’s cybercrime unit reminds residents to periodically change not only their passwords, but also their password reset questions for all online accounts. You can find more information on keeping your family safe online at https://staysafeonline.org/.
Deputy District Attorney Jeremy L. Seymour is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is a result of an investigation by a multi-agency Internet Crimes Against Children task force in Contra Costa County represented by detectives from the Concord, Martinez, Walnut Creek, Moraga and San Ramon police departments, along with investigators from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, the Contra Costa County Probation Department and federal law enforcement.
Anyone with information should contact the District Attorney’s Office at 925-957-8679.