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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 4, 2021

Augusta woman admits to participation in child sex trafficking conspiracy

Guilty plea comes as former married couple prepared for trial

AUGUSTA, GA:  An Augusta woman has admitted participating in a child sex trafficking conspiracy in which her former husband awaits trial.

Amanda Gunn, 34, a/k/a “Amanda Howard,” of Augusta, pled guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of Sex Trafficking Conspiracy, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The plea subjects Gunn to a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, up to life in prison, and there is no parole in the federal system. The plea agreement comes just after a pre-trial conference.

“As this disturbing case continues to move forward, we continue to be determined to find justice for the victim and hold accountable those guilty of this horrific exploitation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “This plea is an unmistakable message that our law enforcement partners established a significant and undeniable body of evidence establishing Amanda Gunn/Howard’s culpability.”

“By pleading guilty, Amanda Gunn/Howard admits that she was involved in one of the most heinous crimes that we investigate as a law enforcement agency, and for that she will be punished,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI has zero tolerance for the sex trafficking of children and will continue to work tirelessly to protect children and to prosecute those involved in exploiting them.”

Still awaiting trial is Gunn’s former husband, Michael Gunn, 36, of Evans, who originally was indicted in March 2020 by a U.S. District Court Grand Jury charging him with four counts of Production of Child Pornography and one count of Possession of Child Pornography. A superseding indictment earlier this year added charges of Sex Trafficking Conspiracy; Sex Trafficking of a Child; Coercion and Enticement of a Child to Engage in Sexual Activity; and Obstruction of a Child Sex Trafficking Investigation. Michael Gunn is scheduled for a jury trial Nov. 15 before U.S. District Chief Judge J. Randal Hall, and is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.  

As described in court documents and testimony, an FBI investigation in Texas led agents to Michael Gunn at his Evans home as a source of child pornography, resulting in the discovery of multiple images and videos of child exploitation on electronic devices in his possession.

In a related case, Jonathan Eugene Grantham, 45, of Graniteville, S.C., awaits sentencing after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court to Coercion and Enticement of a Minor to Engage in Sexual Activity. FBI agents initiated the investigation of Grantham, a former Aiken County high school teacher, with information derived from the Gunn investigation. Agents determined that Grantham, in July 2019, traveled from South Carolina to Columbia County to engage in sexual activity with a victim who was under age 18. In his plea agreement, Grantham acknowledged contacting the victim through the Internet to coerce the victim “to engage in sexual activity for which the defendant could be charged with a criminal offense, that is, child molestation.”

The continuing investigation is being conducted by the FBI and is being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator Tara M. Lyons.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Human Trafficking
Contact: 
Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer: 912-652-4422
Press Release Number: 
177-21
Updated November 4, 2021