News and Press Releases

Steven Bitner Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings, on April 3, 2009, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, STEVEN BITNER, a 37-year-old resident of Banks, Oregon, appeared for sentencing. BITNER was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 210 months
  • Special Assessment: $200
  • Forfeiture: $200
  • Supervised Release: life

BITNER was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to advertisement and distribution of child pornography.

In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On July 27, 2006, a cooperating witness (CW) was online on the Internet. The CW logged into the UnderNet IRC server, in a channel entitled "#aLLgirls." An individual by the screen name "Howdy" advertised files available for distribution. The file names were indicative of child pornography, so the CW immediately provided the information to an agent with the Montana Cyber Crime Task Force.

The agent went to the location identified by the CW and uploaded two files to receive the needed credit to download files from "Howdy." With the acquired credit, the agent downloaded nine files from "Howdy." Six of the nine files contained graphic images and the remaining three files contained movies. Pre-pubescent children engaged in sexually explicit conduct were in both the images and movies.

Howdy" was identified by law enforcement as BITNER. Further investigation revealed that an undercover FBI agent in Baltimore, Maryland, had also chatted and downloaded child pornography images from BITNER in 2005.

Agents seized several items from BITNER'S residence. A substantial child pornography collection was recovered from BITNER'S digital media. BITNER used the Internet to advertise and distribute the images of child pornography.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that BITNER will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, BITNER does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia K. Hurd prosecuted the case for the United States.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Billings Police Department.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In February 2006, the Department of Justice launched Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices, 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 identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit



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