A Maryville man who was accused of producing and distributing child pornography may avoid trial.
Federal prosecutor Matthew Morris said his team has made a plea offer to George Edward Robert Everhart’s attorneys.
“We worked vigorously to reach an accord,” Morris said.
If the agreement is accepted, Morris said Everhart will have to appear before a federal judge in a type of hearing called a plea colloquy to accept it.
“We are in the scheduling phase with the defense,” Morris said.
Details of the plea, including a potential sentence and fines, weren’t available Wednesday.
Everhart’s attorneys T. Scott Jones and Gena Lewis couldn’t be reached for comment.
Prosecutors filed the motion Wednesday, which also cancelled a suppression hearing on Friday scheduled to determine if a Florida-based forensic data analyst, Robert Green, is qualified to testify on Everhart’s behalf.
Green would have spoken on a number of subjects, including how investigators recovered evidence from Everhart’s personal computer which, the defense claims, was not legally accessed.
The defense also planned to ask Green how Google and its parent company, Alphabet Inc., store, maintain and allow employees to access user accounts, topics prosecutors argued he can’t discuss since he hasn’t worked for the company.
Prosecutors filed a motion June 5 blocking Everhart’s attempt to subpoena Google’s senior manager for law enforcement and data security, Cathy McGoff, describing it as a fishing expedition that would be a monumental waste of governmental and judicial resources.
“We couldn’t reach an agreement on the costs,” Morris said.
McGoff would have faced questions with potential ramifications beyond Everhart’s case, including the scope and formal application of internal content policies dictating who, how and when employees access user-generated content without written or verbal consent from an account holder.
The defense has argued that Google and Alphabet Inc. had a biased motive in acting as mandated reporters in Everhart’s case by reporting illegal content to avoid legal scrutiny over the allegedly unreported volume of child pornography on its servers.
The defense also questioned in 2018 whether a generic privacy agreement used on the Gmail service gave adequate warning about the company’s scope of account access.
Everhart was arrested in June 2018 after Google administrators provided the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children with pornographic photos from his private storage account that were forwarded to federal authorities.
The defense noted in its motion for relief on June 3 that McGoff previously entered a statement in an unrelated case that the company screens for child pornography for private business purposes and not as a mandated reporter.