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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 13, 2015

Registered Sex Offender Sentenced To 40 Years In Prison For Producing Child Pornography

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

Two Others Also Sentenced in Separate Cases

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – On Thursday, February 12, 2015, U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger sentenced Kieron Mann, 45, of Hendersonville, N.C. to 40 years in prison on production of child pornography charges, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Mann was ordered to serve a lifetime of supervised release, to continue to register as a sex offender, and to pay $50,000 as restitution to his victims.

Ryan L. Spradlin, Acting Special Agent in Charge of ICE/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas and Sheriff Charles McDonald of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office join U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today’s announcement.

“After receiving a lead from our Cyber Crimes Center about the suspected distribution of child pornography by this defendant, who is a registered sex offender, HSI special agents in Hendersonville were able to determine he was in fact producing child pornography with a very young child and was sexually abusing two other children,” said ICE/HIS Acting Special Agent in Charge Spradlin. “Thanks to the hard work of HSI and the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, not to mention an aggressive prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, this monstrous child predator will never again have an opportunity to abuse another innocent victim.”

“The safety and security of the children in our communities is paramount. Through the efforts of agents from the Department of Homeland Security and deputies of the Henderson County Sheriff’s office, families affected by this vile predator can rest more comfortably knowing their children will never be harmed by Mr. Mann again,” said Sheriff McDonald.

In May 2014, Mann pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography. According to court documents and statements made in court, law enforcement executed search warrants at Mann’s residence, and seized his computers and cellular phones. A forensic examination of the seized items revealed that they contained images and videos of child pornography, which Mann had produced. Mann is a registered sex offender, which stems from his 1996 federal conviction for receiving child pornography. At today’s hearing, Mann’s sentence was enhanced because of his criminal history. Mann has been in federal custody March 2014. The case was prosecuted by HSI and Henderson County.

Judge Reidinger also sentenced today Tabatha Dianne Black, 35, of Bakersville N.C., to 210 months in prison and a lifetime of supervised release. According to court records, from May to June 2012, in Yancey County, Black did entice and coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of it which she then distributed. Black pleaded guilty in June 2014 to one count of production of child pornography and has been in federal custody since April 2014. The case was prosecuted by HSI, the State Bureau of Investigation, and the Yancey County Sheriff’s Office.

Judge Reidinger sentenced a third defendant today on child pornography charges. Jonathan Michael Whisnant, 42 of Easley, S.C. was sentenced to 78 months in prison and to a lifetime of supervised release. According to court records, in January 2014 in Polk County, Whisnant received and possessed images depicting child pornography. Whisnant pleaded guilty in June 2014 to one count of possession of child pornography and one count of receipt of child pornography. He has been in federal custody since April 2014. The case was prosecuted by HSI.

U.S. Attorney Tompkins thanked all the law enforcement agencies that investigated these cases for their outstanding work and said, “My Office and our law enforcement partners will not allow child predators to victimize innocent children. We will find and prosecute those who prey upon the most vulnerable members of our communities.”

The defendants will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

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