Benjamin Dale Russell, 21, 1838 Fresno Lane, pleaded guilty before Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge David Strong Wednesday to two counts of the exploitation of a child after he was found with child pornography.
Russell was sentenced on the first count to 10 years, with five years suspended and five years to serve, and to 20 years on the second count, with 15 years suspended and five years to serve. The sentences are to be served concurrently, meaning Russell will spend five years behind bars for his crime, said AG Public Affairs Officer Jan Schaefer.
Russell will be required to register as a sex offender with the Mississippi Department of Corrections upon his release from prison, with five years of post-release supervision. He was fined $50,000, plus ordered to pay court costs, $500 to the Crime Victim's Compensation Fund and $500 to the Cyber Crime Unit.
Schaeffer said the investigation into Russell began when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tipped off the AG's Cyber Crime Unit that Russell had posted child pornography on a Yahoo group site. Further investigation found that Russell viewed and possessed child pornography, but had also posted it on the Internet.
"We prefer to give out as little information on the victims as possible, to protect their privacy," Schaeffer said. "I can tell you he did not know the two children involved in the counts he pled to."
AG's officials declined to comment on if the children in Russell's pornography were from the Brookhaven or Lincoln County area.
Schaeffer said a forensic examination of Russell's computer showed that he possessed numerous images of child pornography. She said there were at least two different children in the photos.
"He pled to two felony counts of possession of child porn," she said. "He possessed two different pictures of two different children."