Nampa Man Pleads Guilty to Sexual Exploitation of Children
BOISE – Fernando Morales, 50, of Nampa pleaded guilty today in United States District Court to sexual exploitation of children, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced.
According to the plea agreement, officers with the Nampa Police Department contacted Morales at his residence in Nampa on August 23, 2016, after a sixteen-year-old minor living at the residence called 911. The minor victim informed arriving officers that Morales had sexual contact with the minor victim for several years and had nude images of the minor victim on his cell phone. During an interview with Nampa Police detectives, Morales admitted that he had sex with the minor victim on numerous occasions, beginning in approximately June of 2015 in El Paso, Texas. Morales, the victim, and two other children later moved to Nampa in July of 2016. Morales also admitted that he recorded videos and pictures of himself and the minor victim engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and that the videos and pictures were saved on his cell phone.
Nampa Police detectives seized several electronic devices from Morales. The devices were analyzed by a computer forensic agent with the Department of Homeland Security, resulting in the discovery of twenty-three videos and twenty-one still images of the minor victim engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Nineteen of the videos and all of the still images depicted Morales engaged in sexually explicit conduct with the victim. Two of the videos and nine of the still images contained data showing they were produced in the state of Texas, then transported to the state of Idaho.
Sentencing is scheduled before Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill on March 27, 2017. Sexual exploitation of children is punishable by a mandatory minimum 15 years, and up to 30 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, not less than five years and up to lifetime supervised release, and a $5,000 special assessment. As part of his plea, Morales also agreed to forfeit two cell phones and a laptop computer used in the commission of the offense.
The case was investigated by the Nampa Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security, with assistance from the Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office, and was brought as 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 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”