Youngsville man pleads guilty to distributing, possessing child pornography
LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that a Youngsville man pleaded guilty to distribution and possession of child pornography.
Thomas Hanes, 48, of Youngsville, La., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna to one count of distribution and one count of possession of child pornography. The plea will become final when accepted by U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi. According to the guilty plea, Hanes was identified through an investigation as distributing thousands of files of child pornography using an online peer-to-peer network. Law enforcement agents searched his home in Youngsville on February 26, 2016 and found sexually explicit images of children as young as two and three years of age on electronic media.
Hanes faces five to 20 years in prison for the distribution count and up to 20 years in prison for the possession count. He also faces five years to life of supervised release, forfeiture of items that were seized during the investigation and a $250,000 fine. Additionally, Hanes is required to register as a sex offender. A sentencing date of March 9, 2017 was set.
Homeland Security Investigations, Louisiana State Police and the Youngsville Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamilla A. Bynog is prosecuting the case.
This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a U.S. Department of Justice nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ 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.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) also encourage the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at (866) 347-2423. Investigators are available at all hours to answer hotline calls. Tips or other information can also be submitted to ICE online by visiting their website at www.ice.gov/exec/forms/hsi-tips/tips.asp or through the Operation Predator smartphone application www.ice.gov/predator/smartphone-app. Tips may be submitted anonymously.