U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Minnesota
(612) 664-5600
April 1, 2015

Minnesota Man Arrested and Charged for Producing Nude Photos of 7-Year-Old

United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced a criminal complaint charging SEAN PENONCELLO, 21, with production of child pornography.1 PENONCELLO was ordered detained pending trial after a hearing today before Magistrate Judge Brisbois in United States District Court in Duluth, Minn.

According to the complaint and documents filed in court, on April 3, 2014, in an unrelated investigation, thousands of images and hundreds of videos depicting child pornography were recovered from two computers at the home of an unrelated defendant in Dayton, Ohio. The images and videos were submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which, in a subsequent report, identified three nude images of an unidentified minor. The NCMEC assigned a name to this series of images for identification in future cases.

According to the complaint and documents filed in court, the photos from this named series were taken on or around September 15, 2012, at a residential address belonging to PENONCELLO. Several images were discovered on PENONCELLO’s iPhone, which included images and videos of a couch that appeared to be an exact match to the couch in the named series depicting the unidentified minor.

According to the complaint and documents filed in court, two minor children and a parent visited PENONCELLO several times at his home, located in a rural area near Cherry, Minn. On September 15, 2012, during a visit to PENONCELLO’S house, the two children were left alone at the house with PENONCELLO. One of those children is the subject of the named NCMEC series referenced above. PANONCELLO is alleged to have taken the sexually explicit photographs.

If you know of any child who may have been a victim of exploitation, please call the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or visit NCMEC’s website at www.missingkids.com.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katharine T. Buzicky.

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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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.

Defendant Information:

  • SEAN PENONCELLO, 21
  • Iron, Minn.

Charges:

  • Production of child pornography, 1 count
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