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Defendants In Child Exploitation Cases Plead Guilty To Charges; Face Substantial Federal Sentences

Mapleton Man Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison For Distribution Of Child Pornography

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY – Five defendants charged in federal child exploitation cases as a part of Utah’s Project Safe Childhood initiative have reached plea agreements with federal prosecutors during the last two weeks and face mandatory minimum sentences for their convictions. The cases include charges of aggravated sexual abuse of children, distribution of child pornography, coercion and enticement for illegal sexual activity, and possession of child pornography.

A sixth defendant, who entered a guilty plea to distribution of child pornography, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison last week.

Project Safe Childhood (PSC) targets the proliferation of technology-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children through a network of federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecution agencies.

“We place a high priority on prosecuting child exploitation cases and, unfortunately, we continue to have a steady stream of them referred to us for prosecution,” U.S. Attorney David B. Barlow said today. “We recognize the committed law enforcement officers and agents around the state who are working these cases with us. These cases from the last few weeks are graphic reminders of why we must continue to aggressively enforce the laws that protect children and pursue prosecutions where appropriate.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol Dain, who coordinates Project Safe Childhood prosecutions in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, says four new indictments have been filed in the first two months of 2012. Several other
cases are under investigation.

Recent plea agreements include:

  • Antonio Cardenas, age 33, of Murray, entered a guilty plea on Feb. 14, 2012, to one count of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. He admitted that between June 2005 and July 2006, he traveled from Utah to Las Vegas to engage in a sexual act with Child A, who was under 12 years old. He also admitted engaging in sexual acts with the child in Utah before and after the trip to Las Vegas. Cardenas admitted that he produced visual depictions of the sexual conduct. Cardenas faces up to life in prison with a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence when he is sentenced June 13, 2012. He also faces a term of supervised release of up to life once he finishes his prison sentence. As a part of the plea agreement, federal prosecutors will recommend that Cardenas be sentenced to 30 years.
  • Robert Leon McBride, age 36, of Orem, entered a guilty plea on Feb. 14, 2012, to possession of child pornography, admitting that he possessed images of child pornography on his computer, including pictures he took of himself and a 14-year-old girl engaged in sexual conduct. He also had
    pictures of additional child pornography. McBride’s plea agreement includes a recommendation for a 10-year sentence. A sentencing hearing is set for June 20, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart.
  • Jeffrey David Pirente, age 44, of Saratoga Springs, entered a guilty plea on Feb. 15, 2012, to distribution of child pornography. Pirente admitted that from July 6 to July 7, 2011, he repeatedly sent images of child
    pornography using a peer-to-peer file sharing program. He admitted he had more than 600 images of child pornography, including images depicting prepubescent children being sexually assaulted by adults. Pirente, who faces a five-year mandatory minimum sentence, is scheduled to be sentenced June 13, 2012, by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson.
  • Brandon Florence, age 32, of Layton, entered a guilty plea to distribution of child pornography on Feb. 16, 2012. Florence admitted possessing more than 600 images of child pornography, including pictures of prepubescent children being sexually assaulted by adults. He admitted that he sent images of child pornography across state lines using a peer-to-peer file sharing program. Florence faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison when he is sentenced June 19, 2012, by U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell.
  • James Timothy Dickinson, age 32, of West Jordan, entered a guilty plea on Monday to coercion and enticement for illegal sexual activity. As a part of his plea agreement, he admitted that he used his Facebook account and computer to communicate with a 15-year-old male living in Utah. During the course of the communications, he attempted to entice or coerce the child to engage in sexual activity for which he could be charged with a criminal offense. He acknowledged that the Facebook communications moved across state lines. He admitted meeting with the child on two occasions. Dickinson faces a mandatory minimum 10 years in federal prison when he is sentenced June 27, 2012, by Judge Benson.

Recent sentencing:

  • Christopher James Pratt, age 37, of Mapleton, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison Feb. 21, 2012, after pleading guilty to distribution of child pornography in August 2011. Pratt admitted possessing more than 600 images of prepubescent children being sexually assaulted by adults. He admitted using his Yahoo Messenger account to transit the images across state lines. U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart imposed the sentence.

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