Lewis Gaudinier was arraigned Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin and pleaded not guilty. Gaudinier remains in custody. His next court date is set for April 16.
According to court documents, investigators traced a computer to Gaudinier's home that was receiving images of child pornography via peer-to-peer software. The investigation determined that the computer was making child pornography available to others for download from approximately December 24, 2011, through February 4. At least 1,000 image files of child pornography were found on Gaudinier's computer, depicting children 3 to 14 years of age.
If convicted, Gaudinier faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years in prison along with a fine of up to $250,000.
This case is the product of Operation Direct Connect, a series of investigations by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, including HSI, the King's County District Attorney's Office, and the sheriff's offices of Kings, Madera and Fresno counties. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri is prosecuting the case.
The investigation is part of HSI's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a Department of Justice effort launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. 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.
Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in the Justice Department's Criminal Division, PSC marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about PSC, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov or call the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California and ask to speak with the PSC coordinator.