Jacksonville Man Pleads Guilty To Distributing Child Pornography
Jacksonville, Florida – Mark Wesley Schmit (50, Jacksonville) has pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography. He faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 5 years, and up to 20 years, in federal prison and a potential life term of supervised release.
According to court documents, during the course of the investigation of an unrelated child exploitation case, the FBI learned that an individual had exchanged a series of text messages with Schmit on July 24, 2017. During that conversation, the individual sent several pornographic videos to Schmit, claiming that they depicted his 13-year-old sister. In response, Schmit requested that the individual send him additional graphic sexual videos of the purported child. Schmit then sent an image to the individual depicting an adult male sexually assaulting a young girl.
On April 16, 2019, FBI agents arrested Schmit pursuant to a federal arrest warrant. During an interview, Schmit admitted to sending and receiving child pornography, and that he had a sexual interest in looking at images of underage girls. Schmit also admitted that he had engaged in online conversations with underage girls, while purporting to be a teenage boy, and solicited sexual images of the girls. Forensic analysis of Schmit’s cellphone revealed that it contained at least five images depicting the sexual abuse of young children.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Jacksonville Office). It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David B. Mesrobian.
This is another case 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.