NEW ORLEANS, LA – U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced today that STEVE C. MERGEY (“MERGEY”), age 52, of Houma, Louisiana, pled guilty today to Production of Child Pornography, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2251(a) and (e).
According to documents filed in federal court, the case against MERGEY developed as a result of a complaint to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“HSI”) Tip Line. On June 4, 2020, HSI Agents executed a federal search warrant at MERGEY’S residence located on W. Main Street, Houma, LA. HSI’s investigation revealed that MERGEY groomed and coerced young male victims, as young as ten years old, in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan to create and send sexually explicit images of themselves to MERGEY.
MERGEY faces a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen (15) years and a maximum sentence of thirty (30) years imprisonment, and/or a fine of $250,000.00, or the greater of twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss to any person of the offense under Title 18, United States Code, Section 3571, and a $100.00 mandatory special assessment fee. Sentencing in this matter is scheduled for January 25, 2021, before United States District Judge Wendy B. Vitter.
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 Attorney’s 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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the U. S. Department of Homeland Security, Houma RAC and Pittsburg Office; Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office; Houma Police Department; Louisiana State Police, Criminal Investigative Division; and Oswego County Sheriff’s Office, NY with this matter. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba, Chief of the Financial Crimes Unit.