BELLEVILLE MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO RECEIPT OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
A Belleville man pled guilty on March 15, 2011, to a felony charge of receipt of child pornography, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Thomas M. Smith, 27, of Belleville, Ill.-, faces a term of imprisonment of not less than five (5) years but not more than twenty (20) years, and a $250,000 fine, and a term of supervised release of five (5) years to life. Sentencing is scheduled for June 27, 2011, in East St. Louis, Illinois. Smith was detained pending sentencing.
The violation occurred on October 26, 2010, when a Southwestern Illinois College (“SWIC”) Public Safety Officer saw Smith viewing child pornography on a public computer in the school’s library. When the Public Safety Officer approached Smith, Smith tried to close the web page that he had been viewing, and also unplugged two MP3 players that were connected to the computer via USB cables. A review of one of the MP3 players contained visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Some of the images appeared to involve prepubescent females, and some involved vaginal penetration. In a voluntary statement, Smith admitted downloading the images described above from a pornographic website via the internet to one of his MP3 players. Smith stated that he accessed the website for about 15 minutes in which time he downloaded a couple hundred photographs of young girls between the ages of 10 and 15 years old.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case was investigated by the SWIC Department of Public Safety, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Metro East Cyber Crimes and Analysis Task Force. The case is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Angela Scott.