A Tamaqua man was sentenced in federal court for child pornography charges while, in a separate case, a former Lehighton man was arrested on similar charges.
Robert L. Raeder Jr., 45, of Tamaqua, already facing child sexual abuse charges in Schuylkill County, was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Scranton to serve 121 months in a federal prison on child pornography charges.
Stephen Puza III of Bethlehem, formerly of Lehighton, was indicted by a grand jury of various charges related to child pornography.
Raeder Jr., 45, was sentenced to the long term by Senior U.S. District Judge Richard P. Conaboy.
Raeder pleaded guilty on May 7 to production of child pornography.
He was arrested on April 2 on the federal charges. He was charged with producing pornographic videos and other images, and maintaining them on his computer during the time frame of January 2001 and December 2012.
The case against Raeder was handled by state police's Computer Crimes Unit and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigation Unit.
In addition to the jail term Raeder was also ordered to be on supervised release for three years and must register as a sexual offender for life.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Olshefski prosecuted the case.
Raeder still faces charges filed by Schuylkill County authorities of allegedly raping one girl and sexually abusing a second girl.
State police at Frackville charged that Raeder assaulted the two girls in the summer of 2001 at two locations in Tamaqua. Troopers learned of the assaults on April 29, 2012, when a community cleanup along Valley Road in Walker Township uncovered 53 Polaroid pictures depicting child nudity and sexual assault, troopers said.
On Oct. 23, 2012, a request for identification was given to area media outlets. Two days later the biological parents of a girl in the photos contacted troopers stating one of the girls in the photos appeared to be their daughter. The parents said the girl was 3-5 years of age at the time of the photos.
Troopers then learned that during the summer of 2001 Raeder was a baby sitter for the girl while her mother was at work, along with his own children.
Raeder was charged by troopers with two counts each of unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors, and indecent assault, and one count each of rape, aggravated indecent assault, and indecent exposure and other related counts.
Puza was indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday on charges of receiving and distributing child pornography.
The defendant allegedly downloaded and shared child pornography during July 2011 through September 23, 2011. Puza allegedly committed the offense while residing in Lehighton.
The charge against Puza resulted from an investigation by special agents and task force officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police, and Lehighton Borough Police.
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 Internet safety education, visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "Resources."
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa.
Indictments and criminal informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
In this case, the mandatory minimum sentence is five years' imprisonment.
The maximum penalty under the federal statute is 20 years' imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine.
Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances, and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public, and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational, and medical needs.
For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.