(STL.News) – A Cedar Grove man was sentenced to prison for a federal child pornography crime, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Benjamin Franklin Thomas, 32, was sentenced to 60 months in prison for possession of child pornography. He also is required to register as a sex offender and to complete 15 years of federal supervised release. The federal prison sentence will run consecutive to a three to 30-year state sentence that Thomas currently is serving for breaking and entering into Cedar Grove Elementary School and Ward Church of God.
“Reprehensible,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Child porn is a disgusting offense that, sadly, is a frequent crime prosecuted by my office. My highest priority is protecting our kids. These crimes are some of the most troubling crimes committed in society. I commend the very important work done by the law enforcement agencies that investigate these crimes.”
Thomas previously admitted that he used his smartphone to search for images of child pornography on the internet, download the images, and save them to his Google Photos while residing in Cedar Grove in Kanawha County. Images possessed by Thomas in his collection of child pornography included prepubescent minors and images depicting sadistic or masochistic conduct and sexual exploitation of very young children.
The South Charleston Police Department, the Cedar Grove Police Department, the United States Secret Service and the West Virginia State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force conducted the investigation. Senior United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Kristin F. Scott handled the prosecution.
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative of the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s 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 those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.