COLUMBUS, Ga. – An Augusta, Georgia, man was sentenced to serve 210 months in federal prison today, after pleading guilty to coercion and enticement of two Columbus minors he befriended on the social media app Snapchat, said Peter D. Leary, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.
Todd Matthew Jones, 28, of Augusta, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Clay Land to serve 210 months on each count concurrent to be followed by ten years of supervised release . In addition, Jones will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison. Jones previously pleaded guilty to two counts of coercion and enticement of a minor. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Our office shares a relentless commitment with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to locate and apprehend all individuals who exploit and abuse children,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Peter Leary. “Thanks to the efforts of the Columbus Police Department and FBI, this child predator will no longer be able to abuse young people he targets online.”
“The families of the minor victims and the victims themselves in this case could never find justice in any sentence Jones could have received,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This case is another example of how easy it is for young people to become victims by using social media apps. We hope that others can learn from this case and we will continue to pursue any predators who commit such heinous crimes.”
According to court documents, Jones met a 13-year-old middle school male, “John Doe,” on the social media app Snapchat. Jones proceeded to send the victim sexually explicit photos of himself and encouraged John Doe to do the same, which he did. Following a series of additional Snapchat conversations, the defendant traveled to Columbus to meet John Doe and sexually abused him. John Doe’s mother discovered the relationship and Jones was taken into custody on December 1, 2018. During the investigation, agents found a second victim, a 16-year-old female minor, “Jane Doe,” who said she met the defendant on Snapchat. Jane Doe told investigators she engaged in sexual activities with the defendant on five occasions. The female victim was encouraged to, and did, send sexually explicit photos of herself to the defendant. Investigators found sexually explicit videos of Jane Doe on the defendant’s cell phone as well as child pornography.
The case was investigated by the Columbus Police Department’s Special Victims Unit and the FBI.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Crawford Seals prosecuted the case for the Government.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.