BOISE – After a three-day trial, a federal jury sitting in Pocatello found Joseph Hornof, 41, of Blackfoot, Idaho, guilty of two counts of distribution of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography, U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit announced today. Chief U.S. District Judge David C. Nye presided over the trial, which began on January 23, and concluded with a guilty verdict on January 25. Following the jury’s verdict, Hornof is subject to a sentencing enhancement for committing a prior sex offense against a child in 2009 in Bannock County, Idaho.
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Hornof used the Kik messenger application to communicate with an undercover officer in North Carolina. Hornof shared videos and images of child pornography with the officer. Hornof then directed the officer to join a social media group called “pedophilia” that Hornof administered. In that group, Hornof distribution 24 videos of child pornography to other members of the group. Law enforcement later served a search warrant at Hornof’s residence in Blackfoot. After seizing his laptop and cellphone, officers discovered additional images of child pornography on the devices.
The charge of distribution of child pornography, with a prior conviction, carries a minimum of 15 years and up to 40 years in federal prison, per count, a fine of up to $250,000, and at least five years and up to lifetime of supervised release. The charge of possession of child pornography, with a prior conviction, carries a minimum of 10 years and up to 20 years in federal prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and at least five years and up to lifetime of supervised release. Hornof will be required to register as a sex offender as a result of the conviction.
Sentencing is set for May 1, 2023, before Judge Nye at the federal courthouse in Pocatello.
U.S. Attorney Hurwit, of the District of Idaho commended the cooperative efforts of the Idaho Falls Police Department, Idaho ICAC Task Force, Boone North Carolina Police Department, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Shirts and Erin Blackadar.
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