SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Johnathan David Sprague, 33, of Orangevale, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller to 25 years in prison for sexual exploitation of a minor, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, starting in January 2019, Sprague joined a Kik chat group for persons interested in sex with children and sent members of the group messages that contained screenshots of his texting activity with minors. Sprague sent screenshots of the victim engaged in sexual conduct to one group member, an undercover officer, stating that he was “grooming” the victim. Sprague sent another user the images of the victim. He also expressed interest in the 11‑year-old stepdaughter of a chat group member who was actually an undercover officer. On Feb. 24, 2019, Sprague offered to buy a plane ticket for the Kik group member and the stepdaughter to fly from Newark, New Jersey to Sacramento. On March 8, 2019, Sprague went to the airport to pick them up and was arrested.
Agents seized Sprague’s phone, and found child pornography files stored in his cloud storage accounts, as well as screenshots of chats showing the production and distribution of the images of the minor.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to continuing to locate offenders like Sprague and ensure that they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Talbert. “We will do everything we can to keep our children safe from predators.”
“This investigation demonstrates Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) unwavering commitment to rid our community of child predators who seek to harm our most innocent population,” said HSI NorCal Special Agent in Charge Tatum King. “HSI operates worldwide to ensure child predators have no safe hiding place and are brought to justice. HSI Newark initiated this investigation and coordinated with HSI NorCal to ensure this individual was held accountable. HSI and our partners in the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), will never relent when it comes to protecting children and prosecuting predators whose perverse behavior has no place in our society.”
This case was the product of an investigation by the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children task force, HIS, the New Jersey State Police, and the police departments of Bayonne, New Jersey, Newark and Sacramento. Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Yang prosecuted the case.
Sprague will remain in custody pending sentencing in New Jersey on state charges before transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility.
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.