Former Tribal Police Officer Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison for Attempted Production of Child Pornography
Moxee, Washington Man Sentenced in Federal Court
Spokane – William D. Hyslop, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced Lorenzo Elias Mendez, age 39, a former Yakama Nation police officer, was sentenced after a jury found him guilty of attempted production of child pornography, on August 16, 2019. United States District Judge Salvador Mendoza, Jr. sentenced Mendez to a 20-year term of imprisonment, to be followed by a 20-year term of court supervision after he is released from federal prison.
According to information disclosed during court proceedings, from January to June 2018, Mendez surreptitiously videotaped a minor undressing via a hidden “spy camera.” The images taken from the camera were received via Wi-Fi signal on Mendez’s phone. Mendez then imported the images into other applications where they were edited and saved. Evidence of over 500 such surreptitiously taken images was presented by the United States at trial.
At sentencing Judge Mendoza noted Mendez, a tribal police officer at the time the crime was committed, abused the trust not only of his victim, but of the community as well in committing the crime. Judge Mendoza also noted he had reviewed all information provided by Mendez and at no point had he expressed any empathy toward the victim of his crime. Judge Mendoza told Mendez he hoped he had heard the victim when she told the Court Mendez’s crime would haunt her for the rest of her life.
United States Attorney Hyslop said, “Prosecuting those who would attempt to produce pornographic images of a vulnerable minor is a priority of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington. This Office, together with its federal, state, local and Tribal law enforcement partners, is dedicated to prosecuting aggressively these cases and seeking appropriate punishment for child pornography crimes.”
This case was pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States 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 individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. The Project Safe Childhood Initiative (“PSC”) has five major components:
· Integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases, and to identify and rescue children;
· Participation of PSC partners in coordinated national initiatives;
· Increased federal enforcement in child pornography and enticement cases;
· Training of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents; and
· Community awareness and educational programs.
For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."
This case was investigated by the Yakima Resident Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Moxee Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Alison L. Gregoire and Thomas J. Hanlon, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.