News and Press Releases

Local Man Charged With Offenses Related To The Sexual Exploitation Of A Minor

June 10, 2011

PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ A former resident of Allegheny County, Pa., has been indicted by a federal grand juryin Pittsburgh on charges of distribution of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, attempted coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, and attempted production of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

The three‑count superseding indictment, returned on June 9, 2011, named John A. Brownlee, III, 61, formerly of North Versailles, Pa., and Mt. Lebanon, Pa., as the sole defendant.

According to the superseding indictment presented to the court, on or about Feb. 4, 2011, Brownlee distributed images in computer graphics files containing material depicting the sexual exploitation of minors. Also, according to the superseding indictment, beginning on or about Nov. 1, 2010, and continuing thereafter until on or about May 12, 2011, Brownlee used facilities and means of interstate and foreign commerce, specifically a computer, the internet and the telephone, to knowingly attempt to persuade, induce, entice, and coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity.  The superseding indictment also alleges that, on or about April 30, 2011, and continuing thereafter until on or about May 12, 2011, in the Western District of Pennsylvania, Brownlee attempted to employ, use, persuade, induce, entice, and coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of life in prison, a fine of $750,000, or both.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant

Assistant United States Attorney Jessica Lieber Smolar is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.

An indictment or information is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Launched in February 2006, Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.  Led by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices, 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 identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

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