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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 25, 2021

Scranton Man Charged With Receipt And Distribution Of Child Pornography

SCRANTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Zachary Watkins, age 20, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was indicted on February 23, 2021, by a federal grand jury for the receipt and distribution of child pornography.

According to Acting United States Attorney, Bruce D. Bandler, the indictment alleges that between January 1, 2020, and January 27, 2021, in Lackawanna County, Watkins received and distributed visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. 

The charges stem from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Scranton Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorney James Buchanan is prosecuting the case.

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

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

The maximum penalty under federal law for these offenses is 20 years imprisonment imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. The mandatory minimum for these offenses is 5 years imprisonment.  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.

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."          

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Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated February 25, 2021