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Press Release

Spirit Lake, ND, Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison for Production and Distribution of Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of North Dakota

Fargo – United States Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl announced that Johnson Shae Tollefson, age 29 of Spirit Lake, ND, appeared before Chief Judge Peter D. Welte, U.S. District Court, Fargo, ND, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison after having plead guilty on February 8, 2022, to Production, Distribution and Possession of Child Pornography. Judge Welte also sentenced Tollefson to lifetime of supervised release and he ordered Tollefson to pay $12,000 in restitution to four victims who were depicted in the images of child pornography.

This case came to the attention of law enforcement after the social networking website Tumblr reported that the Tumblr user "hornybiguysstuff" uploaded child pornography images during a private blog via the platform on December 19, 2019. A subsequent investigation by Homeland Security Investigation and North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation revealed that the user "hornybiguysstuff" was in reality Tollefson. Tollefson produced child pornography in Dilworth, Minnesota, that depicted a toddler-age female. While in North Dakota, Tollefson subsequently distributed the child pornography to other Tumblr users in exchange for other child pornography.

A federal grand jury in the District of Minnesota returned an Indictment charging Tollefson with production of child pornography and a federal grand jury in North Dakota returned an Indictment charging him with distribution and possession of child pornography. The Minnesota Indictment was eventually transferred to the District of North Dakota and Tollefson plead guilty to both Indictments in North Dakota. The two cases were combined for sentencing.

This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the nation, Project Safe Childhood, in conjunction with Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), help federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative responses to offenders who use the Internet, online communications systems, or computer technology to sexually exploit children. The ICAC Program is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces engaging in proactive investigations, forensic investigations, and criminal prosecutions. Project Safe Childhood also helps to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

This case was investigated by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations, and the case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office, with United States Attorney Jennifer Puhl assigned to the case.

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Contact

Terry W. Van Horn 701-297-7458 terry.vanhorn@usdoj.gov

Updated September 20, 2022