News and Press Releases

Cranberry Man Pleads Guilty To Possessing Sexually Explicit Videos And Images Of Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 3 , 2011

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - A resident of Butler County, Pa., pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Mark E. Wellman, 23, of Cranberry Township, Pa., pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Joy Flowers Conti.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on Dec. 4, 2010, Wellman possessed hundreds of videos and still images, in computer graphics files, the production of which involved the use of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.  Many of the videos and images depicted prepubescent children engaged in violent, sexual acts.

Judge Conti scheduled sentencing for Feb. 3, 2012, at 2:00 p.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Carolyn J. Bloch is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Wellman.

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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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