Two San Joaquin Valley men were sentenced Monday to federal prison on child pornography charges, but for vastly different lengths of time.
The difference in prison terms reflects government's less-severe view of the crime of possessing the material versus actively sending it to others.
U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii sentenced Merced resident Jeremiah Lee Smedley to 61/2 years in prison for possession of child pornography.
One floor below Ishii in the federal courthouse, U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger sentenced Modesto resident Walter John Kemic to 171/2 years in prison for distribution of child pornography.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gappa said the lengthy prison term given to Kemic "reflects the damage that an individual picture does, which is compounded greatly every time it is reproduced by sending it."
Gappa noted that if a picture of a child is sent to 10 people, who each send it to 10 more, and so on, "it is around the world in literally seconds."
Indeed, Kemic was caught in an undercover investigation that started in December 2005 in Australia, where authorities received child pornography from a person found to be Kemic.
Australian authorities contacted the FBI, which found that Kemic engaged in online chat sessions and had sent child pornography images. He was arrested Dec. 22, 2005.
Smedley was tracked by authorities while downloading and sharing files in May 2005 using the Gnutella peer-to-peer file-sharing network.
Smedley and Kemic reached plea agreements with the government. Usually, suspects in such investigations are charged with possession and receipt and distribution of child pornography, and the receipt and distribution charge — the more serious of the two — is dropped as part of the agreement.
That was Smedley's case, but with Kemic, the possession charge was dropped, leaving him to plead guilty to receipt and distribution. That is one reason for his longer sentence.