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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

California Man Sentenced in Missoula to 7 Years for Online Child Pornography Crime

MISSOULA – Richard Pitts, 27, of Cathedral City, California, was sentenced today to seven years in federal prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute child pornography.  Pitts was also required to forfeit his computer and hard drive.  Chief U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen sentenced Pitts following a January 27, 2015, change of plea hearing, in which Pitts pleaded guilty to the offense.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee Peterson, the government stated that if the case had proceeded to trial, the government would have shown that Pitts became a member of an invitation-only online bulletin board referred to as Dark Moon.  Pitts distributed images of child pornography while on Dark Moon in 2012.  The Dark Moon bulletin board allowed members to advertise and exchange images of child pornography.  The bulletin board was created on or about September 28, 2011.

Eight defendants have been indicted who were involved in the Dark Moon Bulletin Board.  This case was initiated under the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood initiative which was launched in 2006 to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children.  Through a network of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and advocacy organizations, Project Safe Childhood attempts to protect children by investigating and prosecuting offenders involved in child sexual exploitation.  It is implemented through partnerships including the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.  The ICAC Task Force Program was created to assist state and local law enforcement agencies by enhancing their investigative response to technology facilitated crimes against children.

Assistant United States Attorney Cyndee Peterson prosecuted this case along with Maureen Cain, of the U.S. Department of Justice Child Exploitation & Obscenity Section. Because there is no parole in the federal system, Pitts will have to serve at least 85% of his sentence before he is released from prison.

Updated May 28, 2015