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Tioga Man Gets 109 Month Sentence on Child Porn Charges

Mahkya Searles, age 23, of Tioga County, was sentenced yesterday to 109 months in prison, to be followed by 15 years of supervised release, for his receipt and possession of child pornography.  The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In pleading guilty, Searles admitted that, from April 2018 through March 10, 2019, he searched for and downloaded child pornography from the Internet, and that on March 20, 2019 he possessed more than 30 images of child pornography on his phone, some of which involved prepubescent minors.

In imposing sentence, Senior District Judge Thomas McAvoy found that Searles had a prior pattern of activity involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of a 5-year old child. Upon release from imprisonment, Searles must also register as a sex offender.

This case was investigated by the Tioga County Sheriff’s Department, Athens Police Department, and the FBI, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Grabowski, as a part of Project Safe Childhood.