This investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Slaton Police Department. U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña, of the Northern District of Texas, announced this guilty plea.
Stephen Carpenter, 33, of Slaton, Texas, is currently on bond. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release. U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings ordered a presentence investigation report with a sentencing date to be set after the report is completed.
According to plea documents filed in the case, Carpenter used a file-sharing program to search for depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. He downloaded and viewed many of these depictions in the form of video files. On Feb. 14, 2013, Carpenter's computer was found to contain child pornography.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Sucsy is in charge of the prosecution.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.