News and Press Releases

Lackawanna County man charged with attempted internet enticement of a minor for sex

April 30, 2012

     The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a 19-year-old Jefferson Township man was charged today with using the internet to attempt to entice a 13-year-old minor to meet with him to have sex.

     According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, an Information was filed today alleging that Sean Howells used a computer and a cell phone during January 25, 2012 through February 8, 2012, to arrange to meet with a minor to have sex.

     The United States also filed a plea agreement in the case which notes that Howells has agreed to plead guilty and will be sentenced to six years in prison if the agreement is accepted by the court.

     The charge against Howells resulted from an investigation by United States Postal Inspectors, Scranton Police and the Lackawanna County District Attorney's Office.

     The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a U.S. Department of Justice nationwide initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse. 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

     The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa.

An Indictment or Information is not evidence of guilt but simply a description of the charge made by the Grand Jury and/or United States Attorney against a defendant. A charged Defendant is presumed innocent until a jury returns a unanimous finding that the United States has proven the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or until the defendant has pled guilty to the charges.

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