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NEW ORLEANS—FORREST B. SMITH, age 77, a resident of Slidell, Louisiana, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt to crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten. Specifically, SMITH pleaded guilty to possessing images depicting the sexual exploitation and victimization of children.
According to courts documents, SMITH downloaded and obtained 21,877 images and 1,498 videos depicting minors, including infants, engaged in sexually explicit conduct. SMITH then shared, or distributed, many of these images to others via numerous computer-based applications between July 2007 and October 2010, in part so that SMITH could then have access to other individuals’ collections of similar images and videos. SMITH catalogued many of the images and videos on his computers in a series of folders and sub-folders that he created and named using sexually explicit terms. Additionally, SMITH also created multiple fake personal profiles on social networking websites in which he represented himself to be young boys and girls, and he used his false profiles to join various “groups” geared towards minors.
Sentencing has been scheduled for May 17, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.. SMITH faces a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and a lifetime term of supervised release. SMITH can also be required to register as a sex offender.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.
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