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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Repeat Offender Sentenced to 212 Months for Child Pornography Crimes

Benjamin Jakes-Johnson Committed Crimes While on Supervised Release for Prior Offenses

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Benjamin Jakes-Johnson, age 40, of New York City and Syracuse, New York, was sentenced today to serve 212 months in prison for distributing, attempting to receive, and possessing child pornography while on supervised release for an earlier conviction for possessing child pornography. The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith, Thomas Relford Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and New York State Police Superintendent Keith Corlett.

In today’s sentencing Jakes-Johnson was ordered to serve 200 months for his convictions at trial, and a consecutive 12 months for violating his supervised release by, among other things, committing the new crimes. Senior United States District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy also imposed a lifetime term of supervised release, to begin after Jakes-Johnson is released from prison, and a total of $5,300 in special assessments. Jakes-Johnson also will continue to be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison. 

During a 5-day jury trial in March 2020, the evidence established that Jakes-Johnson used an online peer-to-peer file-sharing program to distribute and attempt to receive child pornography in December 2016, and that he possessed child pornography in 2017. The trial evidence showed that Jakes-Johnson, who was on federal supervised release for a 2008 child pornography conviction, used a closed on-line platform from Syracuse area hotels in an effort to conceal his identity and escape detection by law enforcement. During the execution of a search warrant in 2017, law enforcement also found that Jakes-Johnson possessed child exploitation material on a laptop computer and thumb drive in a Syracuse apartment he kept secret from his Probation Officer, also in order to avoid detection of his unlawful activities.

During trial, Jakes-Johnson claimed that, although he was mentally competent at the time he first possessed child pornography in 2008, he was legally insane at the time he committed the offenses in 2016 and 2017 due to post-traumatic stress disorder from prior abuse. The jury rejected his insanity defense after hearing all of the evidence, including testimony from both defense and government expert witnesses about the defendant’s mental state. The trial evidence also included a recorded interview between Jakes-Johnson and law enforcement officers during which he admitted the offense conduct, and displayed a thoroughgoing understanding of the potential penalties he could face as a repeat offender.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New York State Police and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Geoffrey J.L. Brown and Michael D. Gadarian.

This case was prosecuted as 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated July 15, 2020