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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Registered Sex Offender From Chicago Charged With Possessing Child Pornography

CHICAGO — A Chicago man who allegedly possessed numerous sexually explicit videos of children has been indicted on a federal child pornography charge.

JOSEPH WERWATH, 36, is charged with one count of possession of child pornography.  The charge carries enhanced sentencing penalties, including a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in federal prison and a maximum of 20 years, due to a prior qualifying conviction involving a minor, for which Werwath has had to register as a sex offender.

During a court-authorized search of Werwath’s residence last month, federal law enforcement observed a video depicting child pornography playing on an electronic device in a bedroom, according to a criminal complaint previously filed in the case.  Approximately 40 other videos depicting child pornography were discovered on the device, according to the complaint.

Werwath is currently detained in federal custody.  He was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Chicago this morning and pleaded not guilty to the child pornography charge.  The next court date was set for Sept. 9, 2020, at 1:30 p.m.

The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI.  The investigation was conducted by the FBI Chicago Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes the Chicago Police Department, Cook County  Sheriff’s Office, and Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.  Valuable assistance was provided by the Harwood Heights Police Department.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason A. Julien.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

If you believe you are a victim of sexual exploitation, you are encouraged to contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by logging on to www.missingkids.com or by calling 1-800-843-5678.  The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Updated July 21, 2020