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Justice News

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

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Columbia County Man Pleads Guilty To Producing Child Pornography

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a 57-year-old Berwick man pleaded guilty today before Senior U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo in Wilkes-Barre, to producing child pornography.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, the defendant, Rickie Sitler, admitted to using a four-year-old child to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing images of such conduct. Sitler committed the crime between late November to early December 2014.

Sitler was indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2015, as a result of an investigation by agents of Homeland Security Investigations, the Berwick Police Department, and the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office.

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 For more information about internet safety education, please visit 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.

In this case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 30 years imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. 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.

Judge Caputo scheduled sentencing for July 13, 2015.


Updated April 16, 2015