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Press Release

Jacksonville Man Sentenced In Child Pornography Case

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

RALEIGH - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today Senior United States District Judge W.Earl Britt sentenced JOHN TOBIAS SWEENEY, 38, to 78 months imprisonment followed by 15 years supervised release.  A $10,000 fine was imposed.  SWEENEY is also required to register as a sex offender.

A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on May 21, 2014.On November 3, 2014, SWEENEY pled guilty to receipt of child pornography.

According to the investigation, in March 2013, an investigation was initiated when law enforcement learned of a 12-year-old engaging in explicit communications with SWEENEY, online applications such as TextNow, a test messagin application, and Oovoo, an instant messaging client application. During the communications SWEENEY repeatedly requested sexually explicit images from the 12-year-old victim.  That same month, an agent working undercover assumed the identity of the victim and continued the communication through September, 2013.  SWEENEY was a high school teacher and the girls/boys soccer coach at South Onslow County High School at the time.  

In December, 2013, a search warrant was executed at SWEENEY’s residence and the high school.  During that time it was learned that SWEENEY used approximately 50 email accounts and fake profiles on chat sites and had nude images of minors on his phone.  Forensic examination of SWEENEY’s computer revealed nude images of the victim, which were also duplicated on his thumb drive.    

This case was part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative, a national program aimed at ensuring that criminals exploiting children are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level.  For more information about this important national project, Project Safe Childhood, go to

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Wilmington.  Assistant United States Attorney Ethan A. Ontjes prosecuted the case.

Updated July 14, 2015