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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

Friday, January 23, 2015

Clay County Man Sentenced To 16 Years In Prison On Child Pornography Charges

United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins Western District Of North Carolina

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – A Clay County man was sentenced on Thursday, January 22, 2015, to serve 192 months in a federal prison for producing, possessing and distributing child pornography, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger also ordered James Thomas Lifsey, 59, of Warne, N.C. to serve under court supervision the rest of his life upon release from prison and to register as a sex offender. Lifsey was also ordered to pay $ 46,057 as restitution to the victims.

Ryan L. Spradlin, Acting Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas joins U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today’s announcement.

In July 2013, a federal criminal indictment charged Lifsey with one count of production, one count of distribution and one count of possession of child pornography. Lifsey pleaded guilty to the charges in December 2013. According to court filings and proceedings, during the investigation detectives discovered Lifsey had an extensive collection of child pornography, as well as a computer hard drive, an email account, and online photo sharing accounts. Lifsey admitted to distributing child pornography internationally that he produced himself.

Lifsey has been in federal custody since July 2013 and will be transferred into custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

The investigation into Lifsey was handled by HSI with assistance from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.

This case was brought 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 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

Updated March 19, 2015