SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Walter Smith, 68, of Nevada City, charging him with attempted coercion and enticement and receipt of child pornography, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, between April 1, 2023, and April 13, 2023, using the Kik cellphone app, Smith communicated with a person claiming to be the nanny for an eight-year-old girl. The person claiming to be a nanny was actually an undercover agent. In their chats, Smith expressed a sexual interest in children and brought up that he could meet with the eight-year-old girl for sexual purposes on April 13, 2023. That day, Smith traveled from his home in Nevada County to Chico to meet with the undercover agent and the minor girl, who in truth did not exist. Agents arrested Smith when he arrived at the meet location.
The indictment additionally alleges that on May 15, 2021, Smith received child pornography from another person on the internet.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Yang is prosecuting the case.
If convicted of attempted online enticement of a minor, Smith faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted of receiving child pornography, Smith faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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.