Shaun Matthew Hopkins Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings on August 4, 2009, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, SHAUN MATTHEW HOPKINS, a 30-year-old resident of Billings, pled guilty to receipt of child pornography. Sentencing is set for November 4, 2009. He is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurt G. Alme, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On December 21, 2007, law enforcement in Seattle, Washington received a disk which contained "Hello" files, which as part of another investigation, had been extracted from a computer. Google Hello is an Internet program which allows individuals to establish direct connections (peer-to-peer) between computers for the specific purpose of sharing pictures and chats. The Hello files identified approximately 85 individuals world-wide who had recently communicated about and exchanged child pornography with an individual in Florida.
A chat log was found which contained dialogue regarding the sexual exploitation of children, as well as the distribution and receipt of child pornography. The chat log contained thumbnail images of child pornography which had been exchanged during a chat on November 23, 2007, between HOPKINS in Montana and the individual in Florida. At the end of the chat there were 388 thumbnail images which had been exchanged during the conversation. Analysis of the chat log revealed HOPKINS had sent 190 images to the other individual in Florida. The same individual had sent 198 images to HOPKINS.
A substantial majority of images exchanged during the chat conversation depict prepubescent females in posed, sexually explicit positions wherein their genitalia was exposed in a lewd and lascivious manner. Other images depict sexual contact between minor females. HOPKINS knew that at least one of the individuals engaged in sexually explicit conduct was a minor.
HOPKINS faces possible penalties of a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and could be sentenced to 20 years, a $250,000 fine and lifetime supervision .
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.