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Press Release

Tioga County Man Pleads Guilty to Receipt and Possession of Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York

BINGHAMTON, NEW YORK – Mahkya Searles, 23, of Tioga County, New York, pled guilty  in United States District Court to receipt and possession of child pornography, announced United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Searles will remain in the custody of the United States Marshal’s Service pending sentencing by Senior United States District Judge Hon.Thomas J. McAvoy on September 26, 2019.  

In pleading guilty, Searles admitted that, from in or about April of 2018 through on or about March 10, 2019, he searched for and downloaded child pornography from the Internet, and that on March 20, 2019 he possessed more than 30 images of child pornography on his phone, some of which involved prepubescent minors.  

Searles faces a sentence of between 5 and 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release of at least 5 years and up to life.  Upon release from imprisonment, Searles must also register as a sex offender.  A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

This case was investigated by the Tioga County Sheriff’s Department, Athens Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Grabowski, as a part of Project Safe Childhood. 

Launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood is led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS).  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 to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Updated June 5, 2019

Project Safe Childhood