Sexual Predators Sentenced for Attempted Coercion and Enticement, Distribution of Child Pornography
PLANO, Texas – Two men have been sentenced for crimes against children, including attempted coercion and enticement of a minor and distribution of child pornography, in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei today.
“The Eastern District of Texas, along with its law enforcement partners, is committed to locating and stopping the most dangerous predators,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “Many of the events of these cases occurred during the height of the pandemic; however, these agents never stopped working to ensure the safety of the children in our community.”
“Crimes against children are some of the most reprehensible acts that law enforcement is determined to prevent and punish once they occur,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno. “We are thankful for the collaboration of our partners in the Dallas Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. It is because of this partnership that these two individuals are now facing lengthy sentences for their crimes.”
Christopher A. Sheffer, 58, of Media, Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to attempted coercion and enticement of a minor on Oct. 30, 2020 and was sentenced to 240 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Sean D. Jordan. Judge Jordan also ordered Sheffer to pay a fine of $40,000 and a $5,000 assessment pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015.
According to information presented in court, in September 2019, Sheffer was the administrator of a group on a popular social media and communications application. As an administrator, he had the authority to determine who could join the group, which was devoted to incest and individuals who sexually abuse children. Participants in the group shared child pornography as well as their interest in molesting children. Sheffer privately communicated with an individual who he believed had access to a prepubescent child. Over the next few months, Sheffer expressed his interest in meeting the child for sex, mailed the child gifts, and sent the child private messages. On July 10, 2020, Sheffer flew from his home in Pennsylvania to Texas, where he then rented a car and drove to a specific location to meet the child and engage in sexual acts.
Judge Jordan also sentenced Thomas Earl Cardwell, Jr., 43, of Kemp, Texas, to 210 months in federal prison. Cardwell had previously pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography on Oct. 19, 2020.
According to information presented in court, Cardwell had been arrested for and convicted of online solicitation of a minor, sexual conduct in July 2019 in the 371st District Court of Tarrant County, Texas. He was released from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in December 2019. Two months later, in February 2020, Cardwell began communicating with individuals on a social media application about his desire to perform oral sex on female children. As part of those communications, on March 6, 2020, Cardwell distributed four videos of child pornography, depicting prepubescent minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
This case is 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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the 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.justice.gov/psc.
These cases were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Dallas Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force and members of the Plano Police Department. These cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Miller.