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Justice News

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Vilas County Man Sentenced to 12 Years for Distributing Child Pornography

MADISON, WIS. -- Jeffrey M. Anderson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Benjamin McHugh, 36, St. Germaine, Wis., was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge William Conley to 12 years in federal prison for distributing child pornography. This prison term is to be followed by a lifetime period of supervised release. McHugh pleaded guilty to this offense on March 9, 2017.


On September 6, 2016, FBI agents executed a search warrant in Grafton, Wis. at Seth Foerster’s residence. FBI agents reviewed the digital evidence seized as part of that search warrant and found sexually explicit photos of a female under the age of 18. Foerster indicated that McHugh took the pictures and uploaded them to Foerster’s computer through a file transfer protocol. Foerster also admitted taking explicit pictures of a different juvenile and making them available to McHugh through the same file transfer protocol.


Agents then executed a search warrant at McHugh’s home and interviewed him during the process. McHugh admitted taking the pictures of the minor girl and uploading them to Foerster’s computer.


In sentencing McHugh, Judge Conley found that the defendant had been living a double life for the last 20 years, hiding his sexual interest in children from friends and family. In addition, Judge Conley noted that while McHugh expressed a need for treatment after he was arrested, it came too late for the victims in this case.


The charge against McHugh was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation Task Force and the Vilas County Sheriff’s Department. The Child Exploitation Task Force includes the Sheboygan and Milwaukee County Sheriffs’ Departments and the West Allis and Milwaukee Police Departments. The prosecution of this case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Altman.


Project Safe Childhood
Updated May 31, 2017