Monday, August 22, 2016
ERIE, Pa. - A former resident of North East, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of violating federal laws relating to the sexual exploitation of children, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
Wesley Chase, 32, pleaded guilty to three counts before United States District Judge David S. Cercone.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Chase distributed, received and possessed computer images depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for January 9, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 50 years in prison, a fine of $750,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Indiana County District Attorney’s Office conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Chase.