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PITTSBURGH - A Catholic priest pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
David Dzermejko, 65, Braddock, Pa., pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Nora Barry Fischer.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on Jan. 11, 2013, Dzermejko, a Catholic priest, possessed photographs in computer graphics files, the production of which involved the use of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The child pornography was found on various computers and computer-related equipment taken from Dzermejko's former residence in Pittsburgh, Pa., following the execution of a search warrant.
The search warrant was issued on information provided, in part, from Microsoft Corp., that a "Skydrive" user identified by email address email@example.com and screen name "Lord Winchester Cuthbert Thurston VII", had uploaded a sexual image of a prepubescent minor to his Skydrive account. Dzermejko admitted to law enforcement officers executing the warrant that he had been viewing child pornography for in excess of 10 years, had acquired the images on-line from various websites, and had traveled on numerous occasions to Thailand where he engaged in sexual encounters with teen boys, some of whom he thereafter maintained an on-line relationship.
Judge Fischer scheduled sentencing for March 20, 2014, at 11:30 p.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Pending sentencing, the court continued defendant on bond.
Assistant United States Attorney Carolyn J. Bloch is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and officers of the Crimes Against Children Task Force conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Dzermejko.
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.