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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD



Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html



APRIL 18, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


ST. JOSEPH PHARMACIST SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS

FOR CHILD PORNOGRAPHY


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a St. Joseph, Mo., pharmacist was sentenced in federal court today for publishing a notice of child pornography and for distributing child pornography.


            Walter E. Sewell, 42, of St. Joseph, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey this afternoon to 15 years in federal prison without parole. Sewell formerly worked at a pharmacy in St. Joseph.


            “The victims of Sewell’s criminal conduct were young children – even infants – who suffered violent sexual abuse by adult men,” Wood said. “Each one of the thousands of images of child pornography downloaded and distributed by Sewell memorializes a horrific crime scene. Even worse, Sewell was a prolific trafficker eager to share his vast collection of child pornography with others.


            “Every time an offender, like Sewell, downloads and views an image of child pornography, he is victimizing that child all over again,” Wood said. “We will aggressively prosecute those who prey on the most innocent and vulnerable members of our community.”


            On Dec. 7, 2006, Sewell pleaded guilty to downloading thousands of images of child pornography – both photos and movies – over the Internet using the Kazaa file sharing program on his computers at home and at work. Several of the images, when compared to a database of known victims of child exploitation, were confirmed to be identified children. Among the identified victims was 13-year-old girl, who was a victim of abuse from the ages of 5 to 10 and asked to have her statement read during today’s sentencing hearing. Other images include depictions of children as young as 2 or 3 years old. The images display sadistic, masochistic behavior, and depictions of violence.


            Sewell made the images of child pornography available from his computers to be searched and downloaded by other Kazaa users. The file names of those files, and the terms in the descriptive fields associated with the files, were published to other Kazaa users who conducted searches for those terms.


            On Nov. 10, 2003, an FBI agent acting in an undercover capacity ran the Kazaa program on her computer and conducted a search for the term, “pedo,” which is commonly used as an abbreviation for the word “pedophile” amongst those who traffic in child pornography. As a result of her search, the file names and the descriptive fields of files contained on Sewell’s computers were displayed on her computer screen to indicate that the files contained images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.


            The court also ordered Sewell to forfeit to the government a computer Sewell used while working at the Food4Less pharmacy and two computers at Sewell’s residence, which were used to commit the violations.


            This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cynthia Phillips and J. Curt Bohling. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html