DES MOINES, Iowa - An Iowa man was sentenced Friday to 15 years in federal prison for distributing child pornography and possessing firearms as a felon. The sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Matthew G. Whitaker, Southern District of Iowa, and is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with assistance from local and state law enforcement.
Ralph Edwin Johnson, 52, of Clemons, Iowa, was sentenced to 180 months in prison for distributing child pornography and 120 months for possessing firearms as a felon, with the sentences to run concurrently. Johnson pleaded guilty to the offenses April 3.
The investigation revealed that Johnson distributed child pornography via the Internet to an undercover law enforcement officer in October 2008. A search warrant was executed at Johnson's residence in November 2008. During the search, officers found numerous images and videos of child pornography stored on Johnson's computer, as well as several firearms. Johnson was previously convicted of sexually exploiting a minor in Iowa in 2005. He was listed on the sex offender registry at the time of the 2008 offense. Johnson was also previously convicted of a felony drug offense in Iowa in 1977.
This case was prosecuted by the U. S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Iowa and was investigated by ICE, the Marshalltown, Iowa Police Department, and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
ICE investigated this case as part of Operation Predator, a national initiative that protects children by investigating and presenting for prosecution pedophiles, Internet predators, human traffickers, international sex tourists, and other predatory criminals. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,500 child predators and sex offenders nationwide.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.