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Press Release

Former Merced Resident Sentenced to 60 Years in Prison for Sexual Exploitation of Minors

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. —  Matthew Sheffield, 41, of Merced, was sentenced today to 60 years in prison to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release for his two convictions for sexual exploitation of a minor, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

In addition, Sheffield was ordered to pay $100,200 in special assessments and $25,000 in restitution to each of two victims.

According to court documents, law enforcement agents first encountered sexually explicit material in February 2018, and through investigative work and assistance from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, ultimately identified Sheffield as the person responsible for creating and distributing the material on the internet. During the execution of a search warrant at Sheffield’s house, agents recognized unique objects that are depicted in the images he created. On Aug. 29, 2019, Sheffield was indicted and on March 21, 2022, he pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of children.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Fresno and the FBI Child Exploitation Operational Unit in Linthicum, Maryland. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gappa and Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section Trial Attorney Nadia Prinz prosecuted the case.

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 the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit Click on the “resources” tab for information about internet-safety education.

Updated August 17, 2022

Project Safe Childhood