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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

THURSDAY - September 10, 2009

GUILTY PLEA IN CHILD PORNOGRAPHY OF PENDER COUNTY MAN

RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court on September 8, 2009, DENNIS STEPHEN JOHNSTON, 38, of Pender County, North Carolina, pled guilty to a Criminal Information, which was filed on June 16, 2009, charging two counts of manufacturing child pornography, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2251(a) and (d). United States District Judge James C. Dever, III, presided over the hearing.

On August 15, 2008, the Pender County Sheriff’s Office initiated an investigation pursuant to information obtained from one of JOHNSTON’S victims. The investigation revealed sexually explicit photos and videos on his computer, which he had made, of children. Further investigation revealed numerous images and videos of JOHNSTON’S sexual abuse of two children, as well as a substantial quantity of child pornography that appeared to have been downloaded from the Internet.

For each count, JOHNSTON faces a minimum of 15 and up to 30 years’ imprisonment followed by up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.

Mr. Holding commented, “Reaction to cases like this one are always bittersweet. We hope to one day live in a district where abuse like this simply does not happen. But as long as it does, I am proud to serve in a district where our Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force works so seamlessly and so effectively to ensure that justice is done. We are grateful to the Pender County Sheriff’s Office for leading this investigation and working with the FBI and the Wilmington Police Department to ensure today’s result.”

Sentencing is set for December 14, 2009.

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 this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pender County Sheriff’s Office and the Wilmington Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jay Exum represented 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.

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