AMARILLO, TEXAS, RESIDENT PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES
Defendant Faces Up to 30 Years in Federal Prison
FORT WORTH, Texas — Matthew J. Merideth, 34, of Amarillo, Texas, formerly of Saginaw, Texas, pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton to a two-count indictment charging receipt and possession of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Merideth has been in federal custody since his arrest in October 2010 on a related charge in a federal criminal complaint. Merideth faces a statutory maximum sentence of not less than five or more than 30 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Sentencing is set for May 23, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means.
According to documents filed in the case, in April 2010, the Saginaw Police Department visited the Merideth residence in Saginaw based on a lead living in the residence. Upon arriving at the residence, officers interviewed Merideth and a few days later, executed a state search warrant for his computer. A preliminary forensic exam of the computer revealed that two child pornography videos had been recently downloaded from the Internet using a peer-to-peer file sharing program. The exam also revealed that numerous images of child pornography had been saved on his computer. According to the complaint, Merideth told investigators that he had used a peer-to-peer file sharing program to locate and download child pornography because he was attempting to hunt down individuals preying on children. Merideth, however, told investigators that he wasn’t successful, nor did he report any of this activity to law enforcement.
In October 2010, agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) visited the Meredith residence in Amarillo to execute an arrest warrant for Meredith. During a consent search of Merideth and his computer and related storage media, child pornography was discovered.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. 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 http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.
The case was investigated by ICE-HSI, the U.S. Secret Service North Texas Electronic Crimes Task Force and the Saginaw Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex C. Lewis was in charge of the prosecution.
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