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Justice News

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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

California Man Sentenced In Federal Court In Syracuse For Sexually Exploiting Four Jefferson County Girls Over The Internet

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK - United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian announced the sentencing today of a Marina, California man on federal child exploitation charges.

DENNIS WHITT, age 41, was sentenced today by Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby to a total of 60 years in federal prison for enticing four minor children, ages 7 to 16, to engage in sexually explicit conduct with themselves and with one another, for the purpose of transmitting live depictions of the abuse to Whitt over the Internet. In November, 2014 WHITT pled guilty to seven counts of sexually exploiting these children.

Investigation by the New York State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that the four Jefferson County children were communicating with someone over the Internet who portrayed himself to be a 16 year old boy from California named "Lucas." "Lucas," never showed his face to the children, and would type directions to them as to what sexual conduct he wanted them to display for him, live, over the Internet.

As the result of the investigation the FBI executed a search warrant at WHITT’s California home in April of 2014, and WHITT was confirmed to be "Lucas." A review of WHITT’s computers revealed video and image files WHITT had recorded of the Jefferson County victims, as well as similarly explicit video and image files of other children. WHITT had catalogued over 10,000 video and image files depicting these children. To date, the FBI has identified a total of 35 children WHITT engaged with over the Internet, and whose sexually explicit images WHITT catalogued on his computers.

In addition to the 60 year sentence, WHITT was sentenced to a term of supervised release for life, and will be required to register as a sex offender.

WHITT’s arrest is the result of an investigation by the New York State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, supported by the Northeast Cyber Forensics Center at Utica College, and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office. WHITT was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Fletcher, as a part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.

Updated April 8, 2015