U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania
(717) 221-4482
May 4, 2015

Lackawanna County Man Charged with Receiving and Distributing Child Pornography

HARRISBURG—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that an Archbald man was indicted today by a federal grand jury in Scranton on charges of receiving and distributing child pornography.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, the grand jury alleges that Michael J. Costello, age 41, used a computer to download and distribute images of child pornography during January through November 2014.

Costello is charged in separate counts with receiving and distributing child pornography, attempted receipt of child pornography, and distribution of child pornography. He is also charged with one count of possession of child pornography.

The Indictment stems from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, and the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office.

If convicted, Costello faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for the receipt and distribution charges, and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each charge.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa is prosecuting the case.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

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