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Press Release


For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE – Two northwest Arkansas men were sentenced to federal prison this week for child exploitation offenses.  The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearings, which was held in the U.S. District Court in Fayetteville.

On January 10, 2024, Earnest Dean Easley, age 72, of Gravette, Arkansas, was sentenced to 168 months without the possibility of parole after being convicted of transporting child pornography through the internet. According to court documents, on June 28, 2022, an FBI taskforce officer received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children indicating that Easley had sent an email containing images of child sexual abuse material . Officers later served a search warrant at Easley’s residence and discovered additional child pornography, some of which appeared to have been self-produced.  Easley later admitted that years prior, while living in Texas, he had taken lascivious photographs of a minor female relative while she was sleeping.

On January 11, 2024, Lyle Kenneth Smith, age 53, of Gentry, Arkansas, was sentenced to 74 months in federal prison without the possibility for parole after being convicted of receiving child pornography.  In August of 2021, FBI taskforce officers were conducting a nationwide investigation into Freenet, an online peer-to-peer platform.  During the investigation a task force officer discovered that Smith was actively searching for child pornography through Freenet.  Officers executed a search warrant at Smith’s residence and discovered multiple devices containing child pornography and forensic evidence that Smith had downloaded illegal content from Freenet.  Smith later admitted to having collected child pornography for years, using Freenet and other online sources.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Benton County Sheriff’s Office, and Bentonville Police Department investigated the cases.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Devon Still prosecuted these cases on behalf of the United States.

These cases were prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 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


Contact: Charlie Robbins

Public Affairs Officer

Updated January 12, 2024