PEORIA, Ill. - Two Knox County men were sentenced in federal court Friday to significant prison terms in unrelated child pornography cases. These sentences resulted from investigations conducted by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Mark A. Hathaway, 39, of East Galesburg, Ill., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael M. Mihm, Central District of Illinois, to 15 years in prison for possessing and distributing child pornography. In an unrelated case, Judge Mihm sentenced Stephen E. Olinger, 53, of Abingdon, Ill., to 12 years and eight months in prison for possessing child pornography. Both were ordered to remain on lifetime supervised release following their release from prison.
Hathaway pleaded guilty Feb. 12 and admitted he distributed child pornography on the Internet on or about March 13, 2008, and that he possessed child pornography from March 2008 through October 6, 2008. Hathaway was arrested and charged by criminal complaint on Oct. 7, 2008, and has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest.
ICE and the agencies participating in Illinois' Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, in partnership with the Central Illinois Cybercrime Unit (CICU), worked cooperatively with ICAC task forces in South Carolina and Mississippi in the investigation into Hathaway.
Olinger waived indictment and pleaded guilty Feb. 11 to an "information" charging him with possessing child pornography in August 2008. Judge Mihm ordered Olinger to report to the federal Bureau of Prisons July 7 to begin serving his prison sentence.
ICE was assisted in the investigation of Olinger by task force officers from the Decatur Police Department and the Illinois Attorney General's Office. The Abingdon Police Department and the London, England, Metropolitan Police Department also provided investigative assistance in the case.
"ICE will continue to work in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney's Office and our local law enforcement partners to protect our communities from sexual predators," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "Simply put, we have an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Greggory R. Walters, Central District of Illinois, prosecuted both cases.
These two cases were investigated as part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,000 individuals.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com/.