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Justice News

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

Friday, November 14, 2014

Gastonia Man Sentenced To 7-Year Prison Term On Child Pornography Charges

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

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – On Thursday, November 13, 2014, U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. sentenced Joseph Lee Schaffer, 44, of Gastonia, N.C. to 84 months in prison on child pornography charges, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to the prison term, Moore was ordered to register as a sex offender and to serve the rest of his life under court supervision after he is released from prison.

U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Charlotte Division and Chief Robert C. Helton of the Gastonia Police Department.

Schaffer pleaded guilty in April 2013 to one count of transportation of child pornography and aiding and abetting the transportation of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. According to filed documents and statements made in court, in December 2011, law enforcement became aware of Schaffer’s extensive collection of child pornography which he was downloading from and sharing over the Internet. Court records indicate that law enforcement executed a search warrant at Schaffer’s home and seized his computers. A forensic examination of Schaffer’s computers revealed that he possessed over 6,000 images and hundreds of videos of children being sexually abused, including 1,540 images of child pornography victims under the age of five. Court records show that the child pornography in Schaffer’s possession included at least 87 different children already identified by law enforcement as victims of child pornography.

Schaffer has been ordered to self-report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

The investigation was handled by the FBI and the Gastonia Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cortney S. Randall and David A. Thorneloe prosecuted the case.

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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov

Updated March 19, 2015