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Child Exploitation

Jefferson man sentenced to 5 years in federal prison following ICE child pornography investigation

NEW ORLEANS, La. - Ralph Roberts, 65, a resident of Jefferson, La., was sentenced yesterday in federal court before U. S. District Judge Jay C. Zainey to five years in prison for crimes involving the exploitation of children following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation.

Roberts, who was also sentenced to supervised release for life, must register and comply with the Sex Offender Registration Act, provide a DNA sample, and refrain from any use of a computer with Internet access.

Roberts previously pled guilty on June 2, 2009, to possession of materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors. According to documents filed in federal court, ICE agents found the defendant in possession of a personal computer and discs that contained approximately 868 images and five videos depicting the sexual victimization of children. Roberts admitted that he had been receiving child pornography via the Internet since 1997.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographer, and foreign national predators whose crimes make them deportable. Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,600 individuals through Operation Predator.

ICE encourages the pubic to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child exploitation or missing children may be reporter to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-822-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

This case was also 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 U. S. 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.

The prosecution of this case was handled by Project Safe Childhood Coordinator Assistant U. S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba.