FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TUESDAY - April 15, 2008
SPRING HOPE MAN SENTENCED TO 480 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR CHILD PORN
NEW BERN – United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that today in federal court Chief United States District Court Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced GERALD THOMAS SMITH, 37, of Spring Hope, Nash County, North Carolina, to 480 months’ imprisonment for transmitting child pornography and obscene materials over the internet. SMITH had pled guilty to the charges in November, 2007.
Deputies of the Edgecombe and Nash County Sheriff’s Departments arrested SMITH in December of 2006 when an employee of the Spring Hope Food Lion recognized SMITH as a registered sex offender, and noticed that he was accompanied by a young child who did not appear to belong to him. The employee contacted the police, who quickly discovered that SMITH had numerous prior convictions related to the sexual abuse of at least eight other young children. Investigators later learned that SMITH had amassed a large collection of child pornography by trading images with others over the Internet. Judge Flanagan considered both the child pornography and SMITH’S serial sexual abuse of children in determining his sentence.
United States Attorney George E.B. Holding expressed his gratitude for the result. “It should not take the incalculable suffering of eight or more helpless children before our criminal justice system ends the criminal career of a predator like GERALD SMITH. Thanks to Project Safe Childhood, to tough laws passed in recent years to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse, and to judges who recognize the gravity of these crimes, we will continue to work towards ensuring that people like this defendant more consistently meet with swift and severe punishment.
“My office extends its deepest gratitude to the private citizen who took advantage of publicly available information about sex offenders in her area to identify SMITH and call police. Without her alertness and courage to act, this defendant might still be adding more names to his list of victims.”
Holding also commended the Nash and Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Offices and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation for their coordinated investigation. “Here again, each agency was able to play to its strengths to put together a great case. I take great pride in the repeated performance of our Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the dedication with which they have met the surge of this type of crime.”
This case is part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative, a national program aimed at ensuring that criminals exploiting children are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level. For more information about this important national project, Project Safe Childhood, go to www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Investigation of the case was conducted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation,the Nash County Sheriff’s Department, and the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Department. The offices of the Nash and Edgecombe County District Attorneys also provided support. Assistant United States Attorney Jay Exum handled the case for the Government.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.