Oak Island man sentenced to eight years for child pornography charge

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By Caroline Curran, Reporter

RALEIGH—An Oak Island man has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison for a child pornography charge.

On Wednesday, Jan. 14, U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III sentenced Keith David Smith, 22, a former Coast Guard seaman, to 97 months in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to a press release, one count of criminal information was filed Aug. 4, 2008, charging Smith with receipt of child pornography.

Smith pleaded guilty to the charge in federal court in September 2008.

According to USCG Sector North Carolina Logistics Department Head Cmdr. Derek A. D’Orazio, Smith had been in the Coast Guard since May 2006. His most recent assignment was to U.S. Coast Guard Sector North Carolina in Atlantic Beach, before he was involuntarily separated from the Coast Guard on Nov. 18, 2008.

Smith received a general discharge by reason of misconduct, D’Orazio said.

“Under Coast Guard policy, any member convicted of a serious criminal offense is subject to involuntary separation from the Coast Guard,” D’Orazio explained.

An investigation into Smith began Jan. 12, 2008, in response to allegations Smith had images and videos of child pornography on his computer.

In a previous interview with The Beacon, Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Gene Caison 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 to 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.

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.

“Child pornography offenses are some of the most serious crimes our office deals with,” U.S. Attorney George Holding stated. “Collecting images of children being senselessly and horribly abused is not only abhorrent and callous conduct; it perpetuates the abuse of the victims and makes our communities less safe.”