News and Press Releases

Six Individuals Indicted on Child Exploitation Charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 14, 2010

Memphis, TN - A Federal grand jury returned six indictments charging six individuals with violations of federal criminal law involving the distribution, receipt and  possession of child pornography, computer solicitation of a minor for sexual purposes, and failure to update registration as a sex offender,  announced Lawrence J. Laurenzi, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.  The indictments resulted from investigations conducted by member agencies of the FBI Memphis Crimes Against Children Task Force and the United States Marshal’s Service. The individuals charged in the indictments are as follows:         

STEPHEN LYNN HAMMONDS, 42 year old Jackson, Tennessee resident.  Indictment charging violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2422(b) [Computer solicitation of a minor to engage in sexual activity], Section 2252(a)(1) [Distribution of Child Pornography], Section 2252(a)(2) [Receipt of Child Pornography], and Section 2252(a)(4)(B) [Possession of Child Pornography].  The maximum penalty for a violation of Section 2422(b) is a period of imprisonment for not less than ten (10) years nor more than life, a  fine of $250,000.00, or both, followed by a period of supervised release for any term of years, not less than 5, or life. The maximum penalty for a violation of Section 2252(a)(1) is a period of imprisonment for not less than five (5) years nor more than twenty (20) years, a  fine of $250,000.00, or both, followed by a period of supervised release for any term of years, not less than 5, or life.  The maximum penalty for violation of  Section 2252(a)(2) is a period of imprisonment for not less than five (5) years nor more than twenty (20) years, a  fine of $250,000.00, or both, followed by a period of supervised release for any term of years, not less than 5, or life.  The maximum penalty for violation of Section 2252(a)(4)(B) is a term of imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of $250,000.00, or both, followed by a period of supervised release for any term of years, not less than 5, or life.
 

DAVID ELLIOT LITTLE, 43 year old Crump, Tennessee resident.  Indictment charging violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252(a)(4)(B) [Possession of Child Pornography]. The maximum penalty for violation of Section 2252(a)(4)(B) is a term of imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of $250,000.00, or both, followed by a period of supervised release for any term of years, not less than 5, or life.

JOHN HAMILTON, 47 year old Memphis, Tennessee resident.  Indictment charging violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2250 [Failure to Register].  The maximum penalty for violation of Section 2250 is a period of imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of $250,000.00, or both, followed by a period of supervised release for any term of years, not less than 5, or life.

SCOTT LYNN ABLES, 22 year old Newbern, Tennessee resident.  Indictment charging violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2250 [Failure to Register].  The maximum penalty for violation of Section 2250 is a period of imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of $250,000.00, or both, followed by a period of supervised release for any term of years, not less than 5, or life.

JAMES HENRY DEGROAT, 63 year old Jackson, Tennessee resident.  Indictment charging violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2250 [Failure to Register].  The maximum penalty for violation of Section 2250 is a period of imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of $250,000.00, or both, followed by a period of supervised release for any term of years, not less than 5, or life.

DONALD V. WRIGHT, 35 year old Memphis, Tennessee resident.  Indictment charging violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2250 [Failure to Register].  The maximum penalty for violation of Section 2250 is a period of imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of $250,000.00, or both, followed by a period of supervised release for any term of years, not less than 5, or life.

Failure to Register as a convicted sex offender became a felony under a new federal law in 2006.  The Attorney General‘s Final National Guidelines for the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), which is a provision of the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act, effective in 2006, were issued in 2008.  SORNA established a comprehensive national system for the registration of sex offenders and requires anyone convicted of specified sex crimes (whether with an adult or child) to maintain registration in any jurisdiction where the offender lives, works, and/or goes to school.  In recognizing that this new legislation would potentially result in increased prosecutions, the Department of Justice awarded several jurisdictions, including the Western District of Tennessee with an additional Assistant United States Attorney position to assist Federal Prosecutors who were already handling cases involving child solicitation and exploitation.  Under the Act, Congress designated the U. S. Marshal’s Service as the primary agency responsible for enforcement of SORNA laws.  As part of its nationwide responsibility, the U.S. Marshal’s Service has recently designated a regional office in Memphis to investigate and apprehend those defendants who do not register as required under the new and expanded law.   

These cases are being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.  Led by the United States 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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan L. Newsom will be handling these cases on behalf of the United States Attorney’s Office.

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Note:  Charges brought against a person through an indictment are accusations only.  That person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

 

 

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