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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Smithfield Man Sentenced To 235 Months For Distribution Of Child Pornography

WILMINGTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced that yesterday in federal court, Senior United States District Judge James C. Fox sentenced james owen hagins, 44, of Smithfield, North Carolina, to 235 months imprisonment, followed by a lifetime of supervised release.

HAGINS was named in a three count Indictment filed on September 9, 2015, charging him with one count of Distribution of Child Pornography and two counts of Receipt And Possession Of Child Pornography.  On November 30, 2015, HAGINS pled guilty to the Distribution of Child Pornography.

The investigation revealed that on July 2, 2015, agents with the U.S. Marshal’s Service questioned HAGINS in regard to his relationship with an individual under investigation in Tennessee for the kidnapping and sexual abuse of a minor female.  HAGINS is a registered sex offender who had been convicted previously of Indecent Liberties with a Child and Third Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor in Johnston County in 1995 and 2004, respectively.  HAGINS admitted that he had been in contact with the suspect in Tennessee and met him in a chat room.  The suspect has since been arrested and the minor child safely located and returned to her family.

On July 5, 2015, HAGINS admitted that he had exchanged images of child pornography for several months.  He also admitted to exchanging images of child pornography with several other individuals he met in a chat room.

On July 10, 2015, agents with the Federal Bureau of Invetigation (FBI) executed a search warrant on HAGINS home in Smithfield and seized a computer, multiple cell phones, and multiple media storage devices. Forensic examination of these devices uncovered more than 2,000 images and 487 videos of child pornography.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the United States Marshal’s Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Ethan Ontjes represented the government.

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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Updated March 9, 2016