- Special Sections
- Public Notices
An Oak Island man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Monday to receiving child pornography.
Keith David Smith, 22, a seaman in the U.S. Coast Guard, now faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Capt. Gene Caison, of the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, said the sheriff’s office initially investigated the charge against Smith. After a detective with the special crimes unit served a search warrant on Smith, two of his computers were seized and turned over the FBI for forensic analysis.
The forensic analysis found 45 digital images and 33 videos of child pornography on Smith’s desktop computer and 37 digital images on his laptop computer, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“In previous times, we could lock our doors to keep our children safe. Today it is more difficult as the Internet allows predators to come into our homes, at times without a parent’s knowledge,” U.S. Attorney George Holding said in a press release.
“To protect our children, parents must maintain a control, not only on what is being viewed, but by what is being placed on the Internet,” Holding said.
Smith’s arrest was part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative, a national program “aimed at ensuring that criminals exploiting children are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level.”
In addition to the FBI, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service assisted in the investigation.
According to USCG Sector North Carolina Logistics Department Head Cmdr. Derek A. D’Orazio, Smith had been in the Coast Guard since May 2006, currently assigned to U.S. Coast Guard Sector North Carolina in Atlantic Beach.
“Under Coast Guard policy, any member convicted of a serious criminal offense in subject to involuntary separation from the Coast Guard,” D’Orazio said.
According to the criminal information filed in U.S. District Court, Smith received child pornography from an unknown date in 2007 until January 2008.
Smith’s criminal information charges he received child pornography “shipped and transported in interstate and foreign commerce by any means, including by computer.”
The U.S. District Court system has three charging documents through which a defendant can he charged—a complaint, indictment and criminal information. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the assistant U.S. Attorney determines which of the three charges to file.
An indictment is a charge handing down from a grand jury—criminal information is filed directly with the court.