Chico Man Indicted for Sexual Exploitation of Minors
SACRAMENTO, CA—A federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment today against Mark McLeod Wygant, 44, resident of Chico, charging him with Sexual Exploitation and Attempted Sexual Exploitation of Minors, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, from early 2011 to early 2012, Wygant surreptitiously filmed a child on numerous occasions using a hidden cellular telephone and hidden “spy cameras” that he had purchased for that purpose.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew G. Morris is prosecuting the case.
Wygant has been in custody since his arrest on January 29, 2015, by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He is scheduled to be arraigned on February 13, 2015, before Judge Carolyn K. Delaney.
If convicted, Wygant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count. Any count of conviction would carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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 those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. Click on the “resources” tab for information about Internet safety education.