Chesterton Tribune

Valpo man facing nine years after pleading guilty to receiving child porn

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A Valparaiso man is facing a term of nine years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a charge of receipt of child pornography, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana said.

Last week Mark Alan Smith, 41, with a listed address of 1405 Tuckahoe Park Drive, pleaded guilty to that charge, in exchange for which the U.S. Attorney’s Office has agreed to dismiss a second charge of possession of child pornography.

Receipt of child pornography carries a minimum term of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years.

The plea agreement specifies a sentence of 108 months, which “is in the middle of the applicable guideline range,” according to court documents.

It also stipulates a sentence reduction in the scoring process because “the offense was limited to the receipt and solicitation of material involving the sexual exploitation of a minor and there is no evidence that (Smith) intended to traffic in, or distribute, such material.”

But the plea agreement also stipulates four separate sentence enhancements:

•One for having material involving a prepubescent minor.

•One for having material which portrays sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence.

•One for using a computer during the commission of the offense.

•One for possessing in excess of 600 images.

The plea agreement also specifies a 15-year term of supervised release; mandatory sex offender registration; and victim restitution.

The investigation began in March 2010, when an Italian law enforcement agency advised the Child Exploitation Section of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crimes Center of a website suspected of offering access to child pornographic images, according to the original probable cause affidavit. U.S. investigators accessed that website—liberalmorality.com—and subsequently served a search warrant on the business, located in Chesterbrook, Pa., to obtain IP addresses of computers accessing particular files on the site.

On July 11 a search warrant was served at Smith’s residence, where a computer used chiefly by Smith was seized. On “a 2-terabyte external hard drive connected to that computer thousands of images and videos were found which appear to depict actual minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct,” the probable cause affidavit states.

Posted 6/12/2012