Kingsport man pleads guilty to child pornography charge

Matthew Lane • Sep 26, 2007 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — A Kingsport man pleaded guilty this week to a federal child pornography charge and could face 15 to 40 years in prison when sentenced next year.

Jimmy Sprague, 61, appeared in U.S. District Court in Greeneville on Monday and pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly receiving child pornography via computer. Sprague is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 4, 2008, and faces a sentence of 15 to 40 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The second count against Sprague — knowingly possessing a computer containing an image of child pornography — is expected to be dismissed at the sentencing hearing.

According to the plea agreement, Sprague was convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor in Loudon County in 1992 and aggravated sexual battery and two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in Knox County in 1993.

Prosecutors say starting in late 2003 and continuing until 2005, Sprague downloaded images that contained child pornography from the Internet and saved them on his personal computer. A forensic analysis of Sprague’s computer found over 800 images of child pornography.

Court records state Sprague saved the images for his own personal sexual gratification, and there is no evidence he was involved in distributing the images to anyone.

Sprague is the fourth man to plead guilty to child pornography charges stemming from an investigation in May 2006 by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The NCMEC received several cyber tip reports about suspected child pornography images uploaded to a Yahoo Photos Web page.

Joseph Taylor, of Greeneville, received a 97-month prison sentence in November 2006 after pleading guilty to possession of a computer containing an image of child pornography. Taylor described his desire to look at nude pictures of children as “dark” and “wrong.”

Federal agents discovered more than 600 images and 150 video clips of child pornography on two computers owned by Taylor.

Craig L. Bevil, of Kingsport, received a 327-month prison sentence in December 2006 after pleading guilty to receipt of child pornography. An investigation determined that Bevil was the owner of a Yahoo Photos Web page and that John K. Foster II of Johnson City was posting child pornography to the Internet.

Foster received a 120-month prison sentence in January after pleading guilty to one count of possession of child pornography. Federal agents found more than 17,500 images and 535 videos of child pornography on Foster’s computer.

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