News and Press Releases

independence man pleads guilty to distributing child porn

July 22, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an Independence, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to distributing child pornography over the Internet.

Stephen J. Matlick, 39, of Independence, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to the charge contained in a Sept. 9, 2009, federal indictment.

Three undercover law enforcement officers, working in separate investigations, downloaded child pornography from Matlick’s computer during a three-month period in early 2009. An undercover FBI agent in Corpus Christi, Texas, logged onto a peer-to-peer file-sharing network on Jan. 30, 2009, and entered a search term commonly associated with child pornography images. The agent connected with Matlick’s computer, which was offering more than 700 files for download. The agent downloaded 36 files, of which at least 24 were images of child pornography. Another undercover officer, with the Westerville, Ohio, Police Department, also downloaded child pornography from Matlick’s computer on Feb. 20, 2009. The Ohio officer downloaded nine images of child pornography from among 1,250 files offered from Matlick’s computer. On March 13, 2009, an FBI task force officer was also conducting a peer-to-peer undercover operation. He downloaded multiple images of child pornography from Matlick’s computer.

Officers executed a search warrant on April 8, 2009, and seized electronic storage media. When Matlick was arrested on Sept. 11, 2009, officers also seized his computer. A forensic examination indicated that Matlick had continued downloading additional child pornography onto the computer between the time of the initial seizure and his arrest.

More than 600 images of child pornography were stored on Matlick’s electronic media, including images of prepubescent children and children subjected to sadistic or violent conduct.

Under federal statutes, Matlick is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katharine Fincham. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Westerville, Ohio, Police Department.

Project Safe Childhood
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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