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Justice News

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lehigh County Man Charged With Receiving And Distributing Child Pornography

     The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a 33-year-old Bethlehem resident was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges of receiving and distributing child pornography.

     According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, the defendant, Stephen Puza III, allegedly downloaded and shared child pornography during July 2011 through September 23, 2011. Puza allegedly committed the offense while residing in Lehighton, Carbon County.

     The charge against Puza resulted from an investigation by special agents and task force officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police, and Lehighton Borough Police.

     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 internet safety education, please visit and click on the tab "resources."

     The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa.

     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 mandatory minimum sentence is five years imprisonment. The maximum penalty under the federal statute is 20 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.

Updated April 17, 2015