News and Press Releases

Former Professor Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Producing Child Pornography

January 23, 2013

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Westmoreland County has pleaded guilty to a charge of production of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, and has been sentenced in federal court to 180 months imprisonment, to be followed by a term of supervised release to extend the remainder of his life, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

United States District Judge David S. Cercone imposed the sentence on Balazs Tarnai, 36, formerly of Greensburg, Pa. At the time of his arrest, Tarnai was a Professor of Special Education at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pa. He holds a PhD from Penn State University.

According to information presented to the court during the guilty plea phase of the proceedings, on March 30, 2011, Tarnai knowingly received visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct by computer and the United States Mail. A search of his residence and seizure of his laptop computer with valid consent revealed material depicting the sexual exploitation of prepubescent minor boys, as well as homemade videos and images of minor boys using the bathrooms in his home.

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

U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Greensburg Police Department, and the Department of Homeland Security - Immigration and Customs Enforcement, HSI - Pittsburgh, for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Tarnai.

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

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