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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Former Pittsburgh Man Pleads Guilty to Producing Child Pornography and Making Interstate Threats to Extort

PITTSBURGH - A former resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of production of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor and for making threatening interstate communications with the intent to extort, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.

Markell Smith, age 25, formerly of the city’s Hill District neighborhood, pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge William S. Stickman, IV.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that law enforcement identified Markell Smith as the Instagram username “7deadlysins19” who threatened a minor female under the age of 12, then residing in New Jersey, to create and send to him, over the internet, sexually explicit images of herself on May 31, 2018. Smith’s threats to the minor included threats to her person, her property, and her reputation. The minor first received a message from Smith as “7deadlysins19” asking her to send to him a picture of her feet and legs. Smith told the minor that if she did not send the pictures that he was going to hack into her account and get her address and that he would kill her mother, father, and her family. The minor told law enforcement that she was scared, so she sent the pictures that Smith demanded. The minor further told police that “7deadlysins” (Smith) directed her how to take the pictures to send to him. After she was told to take a picture of her feet and legs, Smith told the minor to remove her undergarments and to take pictures of her exposed private parts, as well as her stomach and chest, and then face. The minor kept telling Smith that she wanted to go to sleep, but he demanded that she continue taking pictures for him. Smith admitted to law enforcement that he contacted young girls on the internet and asked for sexually exploitive images.

Judge Stickman scheduled sentencing for June 15, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. The law provides for a total sentence of not less than 15 and not more than 50 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, Smith remained detained.

Assistant United States Attorney Heidi M. Grogan is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The FBI Pittsburgh Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation—Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Police Department, as well as the Red Bank Police Department (New Jersey); the FBI—Spokane (Washington) Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force; the Walton County Sheriff’s Office (Florida), and the Winchester
Police Department (Kentucky), conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.

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.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated January 26, 2022