Pittsburgh Man Sentenced to 17+ Years for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

PITTSBURGH, PA – A former resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to a total sentence of 210 months’ imprisonment followed by 10 years of supervised release on his conviction of production and attempted production of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor and for making threatening interstate communications with the intent to extort, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.

United States District Judge William S. Stickman IV imposed the sentence on Markell Smith, age 25.

According to information presented to the court, Smith, used the Instagram username “7deadlysins19” to threaten a minor female under the age of 12 and successfully demanded that she create and send to him, over the internet, sexually explicit images of herself. As part of his plea agreement with the government, Smith admitted to committing similar crimes against seven other minor victims in 2018 and 2019. Smith used many different usernames to extort the minors, threatening to hack them and their family members, and to physically harm the minors’ family if the minors did not send to Smith sexually explicit images. Smith’s threats made the children think they had no choice but to participate in their own victimization. At arrest, Smith admitted to his criminal conduct, telling investigators that he “liked to hear and see the terror in his victims.”

Prior to imposing sentence, Judge Stickman stated that Smith’s crime was “unquestionably serious” and denounced Smith’s manipulation of vulnerable children for his own sexual gratification and enjoyment.

Assistant United States Attorney Heidi M. Grogan prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

United States Attorney Chung commended the FBI Pittsburgh Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation—Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Police Department, as well as the Red Bank Police Department (New Jersey); the FBI—Spokane (Washington) Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force; the Walton County Sheriff’s Office (Florida), and the Winchester Police Department (Kentucky), for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Smith.

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.justice.gov/psc.