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Child Exploitation

Former Chicago-area dentist gets federal prison sentence following guilty plea in child pornography case

CHICAGO - A former local dentist was sentenced on Wednesday to 17 ½ years in federal prison for receiving child pornography, much of which contained extreme images of children being sexually exploited. This lengthy prison sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

John Mantanes, 50, formerly of Park Ridge, Ill., was sentenced March 3 to 210 months in prison after he pleaded guilty in September to receiving child pornography from the Internet. Mantanes, who had a dental office in Mt. Prospect, Ill., was immediately taken into federal custody and must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence before he is eligible for release.

Mantanes' sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo, Northern District of Illinois, who said the lengthy prison sentence was required to provide the deterrence and treatment necessary in this case. During the sentencing hearing, Mantanes' own mental health expert testified that Mantanes is a pedophile who is excessively preoccupied with sexual fantasies and deviant sexual impulses.

No evidence was presented in court that Mantanes had molested any children. However, the court stated that this was not a mitigating factor given the seriousness of his conduct regarding the extreme images and videos of children as young as infants being sexually exploited. During the court hearing, Judge Castillo further ordered Mantanes to serve five years of supervised release after he completes his prison sentence.

ICE agents arrested Mantanes on Jan. 16, 2009 after executing a federal search warrant at his residence. According to court documents, his child pornography collection consisted of 1,380 sexually explicit images, and 141 videos of children, including prepubescent children engaged in bestiality, and sadistic and masochistic sexual conduct.

"Anyone who distributes or possesses child pornography victimizes the most vulnerable members of our society," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "ICE relentlessly pursues predators who sexually abuse children, including physical abuse, or sexual exploitation by possessing or sharing child pornography."

At the March 3 sentencing hearing, testimony showed that Mantanes' interest in child pornography spiraled deeper and deeper after he initially downloaded images on his computer.

"This case stands as an example that wading into the criminal marketplace of child pornography can result ultimately in lengthy prison sentences," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, Northern District of Illinois.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Grimes, Northern District of Illinois, prosecuted 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,000 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 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.