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Child Exploitation

Pennsylvania woman and New Jersey man arrested on child pornography charges

PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania woman and New Jersey man were charged Thursday with manufacturing, distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography. The charges are the result of an investigation that is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Laura Shauger, 35, of Quakertown, Pa., and Patrick Mergen, 40, of Sewell, N.J., were arrested by HSI special agents.

If convicted, both face a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, with a lifetime of supervised release. Shauger may be fined up to $2 million, and Mergen faces a fine of up to $4 million.

Anyone with any information regarding these individuals or this investigation is asked to call HSI Philadelphia at 215-717-4987.

This investigation is 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-DHS-2ICE 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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. Levy, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, is prosecuting this case on behalf of the U.S. government.