News and Press Releases


WEDNESDAY - April 8, 2009


RALEIGH - Yesterday, United States District Court Judge James C. Dever, III, sentenced JONATHAN THOMAS SMITH, 23, of Cary, North Carolina, to 168 months’ imprisonment for receipt of child pornography over the Internet. The Court also sentenced SMITH to lifetime supervised release upon completion of his sentence.

SMITH was found by his Cary-area employer to be using the business’ internet connection to download child pornography in early 2006. The business owner contacted Cary Police, who responded to SMITH’s residence. SMITH was interviewed by police and admitted to having used LimeWire, a peer-to-peer software package, to download child pornography from the Internet. SMITH further acknowledged that he had been downloading and viewing child pornography for years. A subsequent forensic examination of SMITH’s computer revealed over 600 images of child pornography, including images depicting the sexual abuse of prepubescent children.

Cary Police expanded their investigation to look into SMITH’s history, and learned that SMITH had been the subject of numerous complaints from parents of young children who SMITH had encountered in a variety of contexts covering a period of years. Although none of the complaining families alleged that SMITH had engaged in hands-on abuse of a child, many had reported that he showed a disturbing and inappropriate level of interest in their young children, including children he had encountered in neighborhoods he lived in, in places at which he worked, and at churches where he volunteered.

United States Attorney George E.B. Holding welcomed today’s sentence. “I am grateful that this defendant received a sentence commensurate with the seriousness of his offense. It is my fervent hope and belief that by detecting JONATHAN SMITH when they did, law enforcement prevented the needless suffering of numerous children who might one day have fallen into his path.” Holding also thanked the concerned citizen who reported SMITH to the police. “If not for a person who had the courage to call police when it would have been easier to look the other way, this defendant might well have continued his conduct for a much longer time. By taking that important step, that person stood between this defendant and future victims. Effective law enforcement absolutely depends on people like this.”

Holding also thanked local law enforcement officials for their effective cooperation and coordination with the United States Attorney’s Office. “I have been pleased and encouraged as U.S. Attorney by the eagerness with which local law enforcement has been willing to work with our office on these matters. This case is an example of local law enforcement and prosecutors working directly with federal prosecutors towards ensuring effective prosecution of child sexual exploitation and abuse crimes in whatever venue makes the most sense.”

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

Investigation was led by the Cary Police Department, while the Wake City-County Bureau of Investigation conducted the computer forensic examination in the case. The Wake County District Attorney’s Office also worked extensively on the matter and coordinated the case with federal prosecutors. Assistant United States Attorney Jay Exum handled the case for the United States.

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at within 48 hours of release.

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