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United States of America v. Shawn Michael Wentz
District of Montana Federal Courthouse - Billings, Montana
Case Number: 1:17-cr-00024-SPW
Judge: Susan P. Watters
Court: United States District Court for the District of Montana (Yellowstone County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: Cyndee L. Peterson
Defendant's Attorney: Gillian E. Gosch - FPD
Description: Billings, MT - Glendive Man Gets Federal Jail Time for Possessing Child Pornography
A Glendive man will spend over 6 years in federal prison for downloading and possessing child pornography to his computer. Shawn Michael Wentz, 28, previously pleaded guilty in October 2017 to possession of child pornography stemming from a May 2015 investigation by the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and Homeland Security Investigation (HSI).
U.S. District Susan P. Watters sentenced Wentz on January 16, 2018 to 78 months in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release. Wentz also agreed to forfeit the computer he used to possess the child pornography and is required to register as a sex offender.
In May 2015, agents were investigating individuals downloading and possessing files depicting child pornography that were obtained from the internet. Through IP address records, an HSI agent determined a computer at Wentz’s residence in Glendive, Montana, had child pornography files available for download. Pursuant to a federal search warrant, agents searched Wentz’s residence in June 2015 and seized items included a desktop computer. A Certified Forensic Examiner determined the computer contained image and video files depicting child pornography including sexually explicit images of prepubescent children.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office identified in its sentencing memorandum that based on the names of the files he possessed, Wentz was “interested in child pornography files that depicted prepubescent girls being anally raped by adult males, children as young as two years old engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and files with sadistic and extremely sexually-violent titles.”
U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said, "Prosecuting offenders who possess child pornography, especially of young children, is important to reducing the demand for photos and saving children from being victimized on camera. I want to congratulate AUSA Cyndee Peterson and HSI for their good work in this case. This office will continue to work with the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to aggressively prosecute those who exploit our children.”
This case was initiated under the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood initiative which was launched in 2006 to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children. Through a network of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and advocacy organizations, Project Safe Childhood attempts to protect children by investigating and prosecuting offenders involved in child sexual exploitation. It is implemented through partnerships including the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The ICAC Task Force Program was created to assist state and local law enforcement agencies by enhancing their investigative response to technology facilitated crimes against children. Investigative agencies involved in the case include Homeland Security Investigations.
Outcome: Defendant was setenced to 6 years in prison.