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Child Exploitation

Kansas City man pleads guilty to child pornography charges

KANSAS City, Mo. - A local man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to charges related to Internet child pornography, announced Beth Phillips, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. This guilty plea resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Michael James Sheets, 45, of Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty March 9 to the charges contained in a June 15, 2010 federal indictment.

Sheets pleaded guilty to three counts of receiving child pornography over the Internet between July 2007 and January 2009. Sheets also pleaded guilty to one count of distributing child pornography over the Internet, and one count of possessing child pornography.

By pleading guilty March 9, Sheets agreed to forfeit to the government any property used to commit the offenses, including a computer and two hard drives.

Under federal statutes, Sheets is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes a presentence investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katharine Fincham, Western District of Missouri, is prosecuting the case.

This investigation was 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.

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 by investigators.

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.