The defendants here were charged in a child pornography chat room sharing scheme with a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to distribute child pornography and conspiracy to sexually exploit children. One defendant was also charged with receiving child pornography.
The Seventh Circuit found that the conspiracy counts were all lesser included offenses that should have merged with the criminal enterprise count. Based on double jeopardy principles, the appellate court vacated those counts.
They also found that the government presented sufficient evidence to prove conspiracy, noting that the words “notice” and “advertise” apply to a chat room just as much as to the general public. The Seventh Circuit also found that the District Court did not err in sentencing the defendants.
The case is United States v. Gries.