Two Men Arrested During Operation Independence Day Plead Guilty
Two men have pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to child sex crimes charges, announced U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.
The two defendants were arrested as part of Operation Independence Day, a month-long operation led by the FBI to apprehend child predators and recover victims of child exploitation and sex trafficking. The operation was executed during the month of July.
“There is no more righteous cause than protecting our children from sex predators. Investigators and prosecutors are ever vigilant and act with urgency to bring these predators to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “Operation Independence Day was a success because of the men and women of law enforcement who came together in a common cause and mission.”
Carnell Lovette Matthews, 43, of Tulsa, pleaded guilty Dec. 5, 2019, to receipt of child pornography. In his plea agreement, Matthews admitted that from April 30, 2019, to May 2, 2019, he used his smart phone to persuade and entice a minor to send him sexually explicit photographs. He also tried to persuade the minor victim to meet with him to engage in sexual activity. Matthews stated that he knew the victim was under 18 years of age. Chief U.S. District Judge John E. Dowdell scheduled sentencing for March 10, 2020. The Broken Arrow Police Department, Tulsa Police Department, and FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Nassar prosecuted the case.
JJason Ray Smith, 40, of Sapulpa, pleaded guilty Dec. 10, 2019, to attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. Smith admitted to using a social media app to communicate with a person he believed to be 14 years of age but who was an undercover officer. He arranged to meet the “girl” in Tulsa with the intent of engaging in sexual activity with her. Smith was arrested on July 3, 2019. U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell scheduled sentencing for March 5, 2020. The Tulsa Police Department, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office and FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Reagan Reininger and Shannon Cozzoni prosecuted the case.
Operation Independence Day is part of the broader Project Safe Childhood initiative. PSC combats the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse and was launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorney’s 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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov.