A 53-year-old Port Arthur, man has been sentenced to federal prison for child pornography violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

John “Johnny” Anthony Sassine pleaded guilty on Nov. 4, 2014 to attempting to transfer obscene material to a minor and was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Ron Clark.

According to information presented in court, in March 2013, an undercover officer in Jefferson County, Co., was working in an undercover capacity on a social networking sight posing as a 13-year-old female.  The undercover officer received an unsolicited message from Sassine.  The undercover officer and Sassine began an online chat conversation which became sexually explicit in nature.  The undercover officer provided Sassine with a birthdate which would have made the minor 15 years of age.  Sassine sent the undercover officer two sexually explicit photos and requested naked photos of the minor.  Officials in Colorado coordinated with authorities in Port Arthur, to identify and apprehend Sassine.  On Apr. 12, 2013, a federal search warrant was executed at Sassine’s residence.  At first Sassine denied having any computers in the home before admitting there were three laptops and a notebook computer in the residence.  When asked if he knew why authorities were there, Sassine speculated it was because he had been to talking to someone “illegally” and admitted sending the sexually explicit photos of himself to someone he thought was under 16 years of age.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

This case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security HSI-ICE, Jefferson County Colorado District Attorney’s Office, Port Arthur Police Department and Beaumont Police Department.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall L. Fluke.