50 Years For Producing and Using Facebook to Distribute Child Pornography
Washington, D.C.-(ENEWSPF)- A Hammond, Indiana man, a registered sex offender, was sentenced to 50 years in prison followed by 15 years of supervised release for using social media to produce child pornography.
Lorenzo Johnson, 33, of Hammond, was convicted on Aug. 16 by a federal jury of three counts of conspiring to produce child pornography, one count of distribution of child pornography, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Johnson used Facebook accounts in the names of others to identify women with access to children who appeared to be experiencing financial difficulties. Johnson, a registered sex offender, offered those women money to take sexually explicit photos of infants and prepubescent children whom they knew, and successfully persuaded three such women, who were subsequently charged with child pornography offenses, to send him photos depicting the sexual abuse of infants and prepubescent children. One such woman subsequently pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing, a second is scheduled to plead guilty on Dec. 21, both in the Northern District of Illinois, and charges against a third woman were dismissed in the Northern District of Indiana because she died during the course of the prosecution.
In an interview with the FBI, Johnson admitted that he had also solicited the production of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) from other Facebook users as a means of blackmail. Evidence presented at trial showed Johnson asked one woman to produce CSAM so he could “hold something over her head.” In addition, Facebook records admitted into evidence showed Johnson discussing the sexual abuse of children with his co-conspirators and threatening to “expose” them if they did not agree to produce CSAM.
Johnson, a registered Hammond sex offender, was previously convicted in 2009 in Illinois of aggravated sexual abuse involving a minor.
“As the jury unanimously found, Lorenzo Johnson repeatedly persuaded vulnerable women to sexually exploit infants and young children,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Today’s sentence sends a strong message that offenders who target vulnerable members of our society, and especially children, will be brought to justice.”
“Lorenzo Johnson’s criminal conduct merits the lengthy sentence that the judge imposed today,” said U.S. Attorney Clifford D. Johnson for the Northern District of Indiana. “Manipulating vulnerable women into producing pornographic images of voiceless children is despicable criminal behavior. I want to thank all our law enforcement partners for their hard work rendering justice in this case.”
“This sentence demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to identifying sexual predators and investigating these type of cases with a sense of urgency to ensure those who victimize our most vulnerable members of society pay the price with time in prison,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Gregory Nelsen of the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office. “As a result of the tireless work of the FBI and our law enforcement partners, Johnson no longer poses a threat to the community.”
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Trial Attorney Eduardo Palomo of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Molly Kelley and Abizer Zanzi of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana prosecuted the case, with valuable assistance provided by former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, Jill Koster.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 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.justice.gov/psc.