79-year-old Warren County man sentenced on 38 counts of child porn

Published: Thursday, October 10, 2019 @ 3:55 PM


            Thomas Johnson, 79, of Middletown, was one of three men currently facing child porn charges in Warren County based largely on evidence gathered using Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force technology.
Thomas Johnson, 79, of Middletown, was one of three men currently facing child porn charges in Warren County based largely on evidence gathered using Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force technology.

A 79-year-old man, indicted on 67 felony charges alleging he possessed nude photographs or videos of minors engaging in sex, was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison.

Thomas A. Johnson, of Village Drive in Middletown, could get out of prison sooner.

“Assuming you behave yourself while you’re in the institution, my intention is to release you at about the one-year mark,” Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda II said during the sentencing.

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Johnson faced up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine on each count, but no prison time was mandatory, according to court records.

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Johnson was indicted on charges of illegal use of a minor or impaired person in nudity-oriented material or performance, a fifth-degree felony, and the pandering charge, a fourth-degree felony.

On Aug. 15, he pleaded guilty to 38 counts of the more serious pandering charge.

Johnson is one of three Warren County men indicted based on evidence discovered on two days in January using technology developed for Internet Crimes Against Children task forces operating across the U.S.

His case dates to Jan. 14, when Detective Brandi Carter of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office used software to patrol the internet for crimes against children, according to a search warrant.

RELATED: Task force tech leads to child porn charges in 3 Warren County cases

Carter was able to locate the internet address of a user in the Franklin area “used to frequent known child pornography sites, and programs,” she said in the search warrant affidavit.

“Additionally, over two hundred images and or videos of known, and previously identified, child pornography files have been downloaded” from September 2017 to March 2019, the affidavit said.

On Thursday, noting the amount of child porn seized, Assistant County Prosecutor Travis Vieux urged Oda to order a five-year prison sentence.

Johnson’s lawyer, Christopher Atkins urged Oda to be lenient, noting Johnson had no prior record and accepted responsibility.

Johnson apologized to the court, the community and his family, some of whom were in the courtroom.

“I’m remorseful and ashamed of what I’ve done,” Johnson said. “I was selfish in my actions, and I have no excuses. I am sorry.”

Oda said he decided on the sentence after balancing his responsibilities to protect the public as well as punish and rehabilitate Johnson.

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Johnson was also classified as a Tier II sex offender, like Verlan Harper, 68, of South Lebanon, one of the others charged in cases made with the task-force software.

Harper is serving three years in prison on 15 counts of the same pandering charge that Johnson was sentenced on Thursday, according to prison records.

Tier II sex offenders could be thrown back behind bars if they fail to register with local authorities for 25 years after prison.

Oda indicated Johnson is expected to return to Butler County.

In the third case based on the federal task force software, Dalton Moorhead, 28, of Deerfield Twp., is scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 14.