Bhutan Citizen Pleads Guilty to Receiving Sexually Explicit Images of a Minor Under 12
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - A resident of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, has pleaded guilty in federal court to receipt of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Mukesh Khawas, 31, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon. In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that from June 14, 2016, to June 15, 2016, Khawas engaged in online chat conversations with a minor female via the social networking/dating application Skout.com, and during the conversation requested and received sexually explicit images, knowing the minor victim had not yet attained 12 years of age. In addition to the guilty plea, Khawas acknowledged his responsibility for the production and possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor.
Judge Bissoon scheduled sentencing for March 19, 2019. The law provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine of $250,000.00, and a term of up to a lifetime of supervised release. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant. Khawas, who is a citizen of Bhutan but a lawful permanent resident of the United States, has also agreed to be deported to Bhutan upon the conclusion of his sentence without the ability to appeal or reenter the United States. Khawas remains detained pending the sentencing hearing.
Assistant United States Attorneys Christy C. Wiegand is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, and the West Virginia State Police conducted the investigation leading to the prosecution of Khawas.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.