A Martin County resident was sentenced to 30 years in prison by United States District Judge Jose E. Martinez for sexually exploiting a child and producing child pornography.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Miami Field Office, and William D. Snyder, Sheriff, Martin County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), made the announcement.
On April 15, 2015, Eric Leon Gauthier, 54, of Jensen Beach, pled guilty to a single count indictment, which charged him with sexual exploitation of a child and production of child pornography, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2251(a), (e). Gauthier was sentenced to the statutory maximum term of incarceration, 360 months in prison. After his release from incarceration, Gauthier will be placed on supervised release for the remainder of his life and was ordered to register as a sex offender.
According to court documents and information disclosed during court proceedings, on October 13, 2014, MCSO detectives received a complaint from a 15 year old male, who reported that Gauthier had encouraged and actively promoted sexual activity between the minor male and a 15 year old female. The promotion included transporting the minors to several locations, under Gauthier’s ownership, in order for them to engage in sexual activity. This complaint ultimately led to the examination of a number of digital devices, which were found to contain images and videos, surreptitiously recorded by Gauthier, without the knowledge of the teenage couple. On November 26, 2014, MCSO detectives and FBI agents executed search warrants at three of Gauthier’s properties, located in Martin and St. Lucie Counties, and discovered a variety of digital devices. One item, a personal computer that was discovered in Gauthier’s warehouse, was found to contain images of the minor couple engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and MCSO. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmen Lineberger.
This case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.