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Great Falls man sentenced for downloading and sharing child pornography

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Posted at 5:38 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 19:41:50-05

GREAT FALLS — Derek Wallace Johnson of Great Falls, who admitted downloading and sharing child pornography using his cell phone, was sentenced in federal court in Great Falls on Wednesday.

Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said in a news release that in October 2019, Homeland Security Investigations in Great Falls received information that a suspect had uploaded possible child pornography in April 2019. An investigation determined that the uploaded image depicted a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct and led to Johnson as the suspect.

Investigators served a search warrant on Johnson's residence. Johnson, who was present for the search, told officers he had lost his cell phone a few days earlier, but an agent found it hidden between the box spring and mattress in Johnson's bedroom.

After initially being untruthful, Johnson admitted he had participated in online activity involving child pornography and admitted to hiding his phone. He also said he had about 1,000 videos and images of child pornography in an encrypted app on his phone. Johnson told officers he downloaded child pornography in Kik chat rooms and shared files with others seeking images in chat rooms.

Derek Wallace Johnson of Great Falls
Derek Wallace Johnson of Great Falls

Agents searched Johnson's phone and determined it contained almost 2,700 image files and more than 500 video files of child pornography. Johnson distributed child pornography in April 2019 and had downloaded or received child pornography from December 2016 to November 2019.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris sentenced Johnson to to eight years and six months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release. He also ordered Johnson to pay $12,000 restitution and continued Johnson’s detention.