Monday, May 13, 2019

Pine Grove Man Pleads Guilty to Producing Child Pornography

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Josiah Ferrebee, 22, of Pine Grove, pleaded guilty on May 9, 2019, before Senior U.S. District Court Judge James M. Munley, to production and attempted to production of child pornography.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Ferrebee admitted to persuading a 14-year-old female from the state of Michigan to take sexually explicit images of herself and send them to him via the internet. Ferrebee also admitted that after he persuaded the minor to take and send some initial images to him, he threatened to post those images online unless she sent him more sexually explicit images of herself, which she did. Ferrebee committed the crime—what some have termed “sextortion”—in January 2016.

Judge Munley ordered a pre-sentence investigation to be completed, and scheduled sentencing for August 12, 2019.

The matter was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security and the Pennsylvania State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Francis P. Sempa and Jenny P. Roberts are prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.

The maximum penalty under federal law for this offense is 30 years’ imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. There is also a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.