News and Press Releases



February 24, 2010

IRMINGHAM - A federal judge today sentenced a 27-year-old Columbiana man to 18 years in prison for possessing child pornography, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance announced in conjunction with FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Maley.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn sentenced JUSTIN BLAKE TIDWELL and directed he be placed on supervised release for the rest of his life after completing his prison term. TIDWELL also must register as a sex offender.

 According to the information and TIDWELL’S plea agreement, he possessed more than 600 images of child pornography on a computer between July and August 2009. TIDWELL faced a maximum 20-year sentence because of prior state convictions of sexual abuse.

Court records show TIDWELL possessed images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, including that of a girl less than six years old.

“Each child pictured in pornography is a victim when the image is made, and again each time it is viewed,” Vance said. “The availability of pornography on the Internet makes that repeated victimization alnost endless. Criminals who create child pornography and those who encourage its production by paying to view it or by passing it around the Internet will be  prosecuted,” she said.  

“The sentence rendered today should be a warning to all other individuals who may be involved in this kind of activity,” Maley said. “We are watching and we will bring you to justice.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Birmingham Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Fortune prosecuted the government’s case.
This case was brought as part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide, 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 the national Project Safe Childhood initiative, please visit



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