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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Columbia County Man Charged With Producing Child Pornography

March 18, 2015

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a Berwick man was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in Scranton on charges of producing child pornography.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, the grand jury alleges that Rickie Sitler, age 57, persuaded and induced a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing images of such conduct. The indictment alleges that Sitler committed the crime between November 2014 and December 20, 2014.

The charge stems from an investigation by agents of Homeland Security Investigations, the Berwick Police Department, and the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office.

If convicted of the charge, Sitler faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

This case 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."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa is prosecuting the case.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

Updated April 16, 2015